THREE DECADES OF POST-SOCIALIST TRANSITION
With 2019 marking three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989-2019) and the collapse of state-socialism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the team at the “Urban Morphosis Lab” research group decided to utilize this unique opportunity to reflect and discuss on the ways in which the processes and outcomes of post-socialist transition have impacted the built environment of the CEE cities. That thought led us to organise the inaugural International Conference on Cities and Change, with the focus being on topics related to restructuring of planning and design frameworks, infrastructure, architecture, and urban space in CEE context. After receiving more than 125 abstracts from across Europe, the conference brought together leading academics, researchers and practitioners in fifteen sessions, who discussed the major factors that guided this process, such as–the shift to neoliberal system of urban governance and planning; strategic and innovative urban development approaches and practices for adapting to socio-political change; democratization of planning and design practices; privatization and commodification of urban spaces; globalization and diversification of urban culture; and transformation of urban memory, heritage and identity. Through these insights and debates, the conference increased the diversity of geographic perspectives in research on urban transformation, brought forth the spatial dimensions of transitioning processes, and, finally, produced new empirical insights, theoretical concepts and analytical methods for better understanding the complexity of the processes of urban change in wider international contexts.
Since the onset of Stolypin land reforms of 1906, the Russian periphery became a cen- tre of territorial struggle, where complex alliances and strategies of different actors came to- gether to carry out or resist land privatization. Using original documentation of Russian imperial land deals obtained from the federal and municipal archives, I explore how the coalitions of landed nobility, land surveyors, landless villagers, and new proprietors used land enclosure as a conduit for extra-legal governance, mere profit making, or, in contrary, as a means of resistance. Through critical discourse analysis, I illustrate how the Russian state and territories in the periphery were dialectically co-produced not only through institutional manipulations but also through politi- cal and public discourses. I then extend this analysis to explore the ‘new land enclosures’ in the post-socialist urban and rural space by delineating continuities and exploring similarities with the fictitious property regimes promoted in late imperial Russia. Through a comparative theoretical analysis, this paper re-examines some predominant assumptions about land and property in Russia by positioning the Russian rural politics within the global context of capitalist land enclosure. At the same time, by focusing on the historical reading of land privatization from a Russian perspec- tive, this study introduces a more nuanced alternative to the traditional property discourse often found in Eurocentric interpretations.