Call for Papers: Thick Description: Socialist Yugoslavia In Construction. Histories of Postwar Architecture, Issue n. 6

Edited by Bojana Videkanic, Vladimir Kulic

In the past decade, architecture and public art of socialist Yugoslavia have drawn considerable attention from scholars, artists, and the popular media. From the mesmerizing World War II memorials to mass housing and tourism facilities, various built manifestations of Yugoslav socialism have been the object of serious scholarship as much as of purely visual fascination. Last years’ exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia at the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave such interests a definitive seal of legitimacy. It is natural that this initial wave of interest focused predominantly on documenting and mapping the varied architectural and artistic phenomena, as well as situating them vis-à-vis the established historical narratives. We invite contributions that would delve deeper and engage in what anthropologist Clifford Geertz has described as ‘thick descriptions’ of the social processes that have produced and continue to produce the built environments in the region.

As Geertz proposed almost fifty years ago, the goal of thick description is interdisciplinary contextual interpretation: to understand the meaning of social actions, especially where they include interactions between multiple groups with different interests and cultural codes. The method is commonplace in social sciences, but in architectural and art history it is less commonly practiced in a methodologically self-conscious way, even though the production of the built environment and public art unavoidably involves a multitude of agencies. In socialist Yugoslavia, such multiplicity was especially pronounced in the intersections of the country’s multiethnic composition, its diverse international relations across the globe, and the increasingly complex political and economic system.

The editors invite papers dedicated to the characteristic aspects of architecture and public art in socialist Yugoslavia that will consciously adhere to the method of thick description and through it highlight the multiplicity of agencies. Welcome are papers that extend the discussion into the post-socialist period and track the changing interpretations of buildings and spaces in today’s ‘culture wars.’
Possible topics include:
– Architectural and artistic interactions with the non-aligned world, especially the varied political and economic negotiations involved in the exports of architecture and their reception at the destination, including ideas/practices of transnationalism in the Global South;
– The construction and reception of World War II memorials between clients, architects and artists, local communities, and the print and electronic media; Mass housing suspended between investors, design and research institutions, construction companies, and users;
– The construction of tourism facilities between planning and preservation institutions, designers, commercial enterprises, the Yugoslav and international media, and domestic and international tourists;
– Contested spheres of meaning, reception, and historiography of socialist Yugoslav architecture and built environment; and so on.

Authors must submit directly full papers using www.hpa.unibo.it following the links and the guidelines for paper submission at https://hpa.unibo.it/about/submissions#authorGuidelines

All papers received will go through a process of double-blind peer review before publication.

HPA also looks for contributions for the review section at https://hpa.unibo.it/about/editorialPolicies#sectionPolicies

Deadline for paper submission: 15 December 2019

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