Feb 20, 2020, Seminary Co-op Bookstore, University of Chicago

Michał Murawski discusses his book The Palace Complex: A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed. He will be joined in conversation by Meghanne Barker and Magdalena Moskalewicz.

The Palace of Culture and Science is a massive Stalinist skyscraper that was ‘gifted’ to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955. Framing the Palace’s visual, symbolic, and functional prominence in everyday life as a sort of obsession, locals joke that their city suffers from a ‘Palace of Culture complex.’ In his book that takes this ‘complex’ as its title, Michał Murawski traces the skyscraper’s powerful impact on twenty-first-century Warsaw; on its architectural and urban landscape; on its political, ideological, and cultural lives; and on the bodies and minds of its inhabitants. The Palace Complex explores the many factors that allow Warsaw’s Palace to endure as a still-socialist building in a post-socialist city.

Michał Murawski is an anthropologist of architecture and art based at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where he is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Critical Area Studies. His work focuses on the complex social lives of monumental buildings and on the architecture and planning of East European communism. He is especially interested in the powerful – and subversive – impacts that communist-era architectures, infrastructures and aesthetics continue to exert on the capitalist cities of the twenty-first century.

Meghanne Barker is a linguistic anthropologist whose research examines intersections of play, performance, media, and politics in postsocialist Kazakhstan and Southeast Europe. Barker received her PhD in 2017 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is currently working on two book projects. First, Throw Your Voice: Suspended Animations of Kazakhstani Childhood uses animation as an analytic to examine social and material relations in institutions of childhood marked with loss and displacement. For her next book project, Building New Film Cities After Yugoslavia, Barker is studying film culture in the former Yugoslavia.

Magdalena Moskalewicz is an art historian, curator, and editor, who specializes in art from the former Eastern Europe from the early avant-gardes until today.  She published widely on art of the 1950s, 60s and 70. Her curatorial projects — among them the Polish Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) — engage in collaborations with living artists, examining the postsocialist condition and its parallels with postcoloniality. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

About the series: CEERES, pronounced /ˈsirēz/, is the acronym for the University of Chicago Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies. Together with the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, we are delighted to announce the launch of the CEERES of Voices Event Series, an author-centered series of readings and conversations on books from or about Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Eurasia, and the Caucasus. The books being discussed are identified in a various ways: through publishers’ contacts with the bookstore or through faculty requests to CEERES to host the author. Learn more about A CEERES of Voices here. 

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