The international conference "City, Community and the Transformation of Space in Post-Eastern Bloc Societies" was held at Lazarski University, Warsaw on June 24, 2017. It was organised by the Department of Government Studies, Lazarski University.
The conference attracted young and experienced scholars from nine countries: the USA, Germany, Romania, Czechia, Serbia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Macedonia and Poland. Papers and discussions dealt with the transformation of urban space and relations between architecture and the new political order in Eastern and Central Europe after the collapse of communism.
Dr. Owen Hatherley (Keynote Speaker) pointed to different landscapes of capitalism and shifts in architecture in post-communist cities. Presentations at the conference were organised into three panels on cities and communities, communities of memory and NGO activity in post-Eastern Bloc Societies
As Dr. Iryna Polets – one of the co-organisers of the conference – indicates: The topics touched upon cultural, social and political dimensions connected to post-Communism urban spaces. Issues of common identity and synergy between different groups of the societies in question were raised. All the panellists presented papers, which provided an insightful observation regarding how today we have the consolidation of the past and present throughout different forms of activities, organized within urban spaces.
Dr. Chris Lash – another of the conference co-organisers – summarises the conclusions from the conference as follows: The research presented at the conference showed that the theme of post-communist transformation in urban spaces is one that is very topical and relevant. It shows that, 25 years after the fall of Communism in the region, the time is now right to assess the level of changes in urban spaces of countries which experienced these processes. Although there were lots of differences between the countries studied in participants’ papers, the body of work presented illustrates that there are a lot of common themes that can be observed. Dr. Polets adds that the conference was a chance to compare different attitudes towards the Communist past within several countries and heightened the need for future research and discussions on the topic.
Dr. Lash also points out why transformation of urban space was an important theme to discuss: Often academic work on post-communist transformation has focused on political and societal changes, but there has been a lack of interdisciplinary focus on how cities and urban spaces have changed in this period. In this way, the conference presents a lot of interesting new insights into how a common, interdisciplinary approach can be developed regarding the issue or urban change in the region.
The results of the research presented at the conference will be proposed for a special edition of international peer review journal or they will be published in an edited volume from the proceedings of the conference.
It was organised by the Department of Government Studies, Lazarski University
Dr. Iryna Polets
Social Anthropologist (MA, Medieval Studies at Central European University, 2008; PhD at Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw, 2013), Post-doc and lecturer BA in International Relations and European Studies, and MA in International Relations taught in English and validated by Coventry University, UK. Employed at Lazarski University since 2014.
Dr. Christopher Lash
Historian (MA. Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland, 2005; Ph.D. in history at University of Manchester, Manchester, UK, 2010), awarded with numerous academic scholarships: Arts and Humanities Research Council (2006-2009), the Economic History Society (2009), the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies and the Royal Historical Society (2009), member of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies and the Economic History Society. Post-doc and lecturer on the BA in International Relations and European Studies taught in English and validated by Coventry University, UK. Employed at Lazarski University since 2011.