Architecture in Global Socialism | Łukasz Stanek

Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War | How socialist architects, planners, and contractors worked collectively to urbanize and develop the Global South during the Soviet era

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In the course of the Cold War, architects, planners, and construction companies from socialist Eastern Europe engaged in a vibrant collaboration with those in West Africa and the Middle East in order to bring modernization to the developing world. Architecture in Global Socialism shows how their collaboration reshaped five cities in the Global South: Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City.

Featured Image Berislav Šerbetić and Vojin Bakić. Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija. 1979–81. Petrova Gora, Croatia. Exterior view. Photo: Valentin Jeck, commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Łukasz Stanek describes how local authorities and professionals in these cities drew on Soviet prefabrication systems, Hungarian and Polish planning methods, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction materials, Romanian and East German standard designs, and manual laborers from across Eastern Europe. He explores how the socialist development path was adapted to tropical conditions in Ghana in the 1960s, and how Eastern European architectural traditions were given new life in 1970s Nigeria. He looks at how the differences between socialist foreign trade and the emerging global construction market were exploited in the Middle East in the closing decades of the Cold War. Stanek demonstrates how these and other practices of global cooperation by socialist countries—what he calls socialist worldmaking—left their enduring mark on urban landscapes in the postcolonial world.

Featuring an extensive collection of previously unpublished images, Architecture in Global Socialism draws on original archival research on four continents and a wealth of in-depth interviews. This incisive book presents a new understanding of global urbanization and its architecture through the lens of socialist internationalism, challenging long-held notions about modernization and development in the Global South.

Reviews

Architecture in Global Socialism is a major contribution. This is a brilliantly original book that fundamentally recasts our understanding of architecture in a worldwide frame. It will become a canonical reference point for scholars and students of postwar global architecture.”—Neil Brenner, professor of urban theory, Harvard University

“An indispensable resource for scholars that goes beyond architecture and urban planning to engage with broader historical and political issues.”—Jean-Louis Cohen, author of Architecture in Uniform and The Future of Architecture Since 1889

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