Stalinist City Planning

Stalinist City Planning: Professionals, Performance, and Power

HEATHER D. DEHAAN
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5hjxs5
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  • Book Info
    Stalinist City Planning
    Book Description:

    By examining how planners and other urban inhabitants experienced, lived, and struggled with socialism and Stalinism, DeHaan offers readers a much broader, more complex picture of planning and planners than has been revealed to date.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6240-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. A Note on Transcription, Translation, and Toponyms
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. Maps
    (pp. xii-2)
  7. Introduction: Planners, Performance, and Power
    (pp. 3-17)

    In 1928, authorities in Nizhnii Novgorod made arrangements to transform their merchant town into a socialist entity. Seeking more than just industrial growth, they envisioned street lights, pavement, broad thoroughfares, and tall residential buildings with all modern conveniences, as well as rational order and logic in the flow of people, waste, energy, and everything else needed to fulfil their vision for the modern city. For this purpose, they hired a planning team, which would soon be led by renowned city planner Alexander Platonovich Ivanitskii. A man already at the vanguard of his profession, Ivanitskii not only helped to redesign the...

  8. Chapter One From Nizhnii to Gorky: Setting the Stage of Socialism
    (pp. 18-39)

    The year of revolution brought both celebration and destruction to Soviet cityscapes. Workers took control of factories, even as the supply of input materials ran dry, forcing those same factories to close.² As the poor moved into the dwellings of the rich, economic breakdown, war, and hunger drove much of the urban population to the hinterland. In the midst of this, the Bolshevik Central Committee not only tore down monuments to the tsarist past and raised statues, posters, and monuments to the Revolution, but also invited leading artists to preserve historic architecture. Meanwhile, Party propagandists and the Russian avant-garde joined...

  9. Chapter Two Visionary Planning: Confronting Socio-Material Agencies
    (pp. 40-63)

    In 1928, when Ivanitskii arrived in Nizhnii Novgorod, many specialists aspired to use technology to help forge the citizenry of the future, a vision perfectly in sync with the soteriological narrative imbedded in the Soviet cityscape. In the city’s symbolic landscape, technology played the role of the nativity, the force that would make the transfiguration of the human self possible. In keeping with this message, avant-garde architects looked to the space of the city as the means through which to reshape society.² The constructivists among them theorized the “social condenser,” a living complex whose techno-social organization was to produce a...

  10. Chapter Three From Ivory Tower to City Street: Building a New Nizhnii Novgorod, 1928–1935
    (pp. 64-87)

    Assigned the task of planning Nizhnii Novgorod, Alexander Platonovich Ivanitskii operated in a scientific and political milieu that differed greatly from that of the factory town, where the factory dominated all aspects of local life, including all decision making. By contrast, in places such as Nizhnii Novgorod, a range of rival institutions served to extend the state’s operative capacity beyond the capital. These not only competed for resources and power, all in the name of building socialism, but also they represented specific needs and programs to be accommodated in Ivanitskii’s work. To plan a city such as Nizhnii Novgorod, Ivanitskii...

  11. Chapter Four Stalinist Representation: Iconographic Vision, 1935–1938
    (pp. 88-109)

    As the confrontation with the Scientific-Technical Council highlighted, science did not stand above politics, acting as an objective arbiter in institutional disputes. To the contrary, what constituted sound science, evidence, and fact was open to question. Although members of the Scientific-Technical Council sought to preserve the façade of scientific neutrality, they stonewalled in an effort to ward off the dangers of controversial choices. Far from protecting science from political threats, this tactic delegated real decision-making power to non-scientific institutions. Although scientists continued to make constructive contributions to Soviet city planning, their resort to inaction limited their ability, as professionals, to...

  12. Chapter Five Stalinism as Stagecraft: The Architecture of Performance
    (pp. 110-128)

    Under Solofnenko’s watch, Lengiprogor participated in a grand theatrical act that deliberately thrust itself through the fourth wall – into that theatrical realm where actors forcibly incorporate off-stage space into their act, drawing the audience and the imaginary into the show. Highly ritualized, Solofnenko’s performance brought to life the various collective representations that mediated between Soviet state and society, including popular voice, Stalin’s love, and the expert’s master skill. Designed to make the complex, often dark and hidden world of state operations more understandable, identifiable, and comfortable, Solofnenko’s act fostered prescribed, democratic interaction between planners and people. His aim, in...

  13. Chapter Six A City That Builds Itself: The Limits of Technocracy
    (pp. 129-146)

    As Nikolai Alekseevich Solofnenko took refuge in the shadows cast by the bright light of Stalin’s loving care, he nonetheless fully recognized the mythologies perpetuated by both plan and consultation. Like engineer Greiber, Solofnenko knew that his radical plan was nothing more than a “pretty picture,” or monumental dream. Contracting a Faustian pact with Stalinist leaders, he had relinquished his right, as a scientist, to define the city’s aesthetic and form. Although he retained prestige and authority as an expert, he derived his security and status from his role as emissary of the myths of Stalin’s care, democratic voice, and...

  14. Chapter Seven Performing Socialism: Connecting Space to Self
    (pp. 147-162)

    For all of its fantastic elements, idle talk about the need for an all-powerful city plan conveniently focused planners’ attention on absences to be filled – that is, on the lack of administrative power, up-to-date maps, mechanisms for enforcement, and political support from Moscow. In theory, all such issues could be solved through the greater application of the state’s administrative and scientific power, of which planners were agents. Yet, the Soviet state relied on citizens and industries to show initiative in building, developing, and supporting domestic and industrial programs. Such activities generally eluded the oversight and control of urban planners....

  15. Conclusion: Living Socialism in the Shadow of the Political
    (pp. 163-170)

    From planned cities to a socialist paradise, the entire Soviet system revolved around hope – always inspiring, always unfulfilled. It projected itself through a theatrical fourth wall, creating an imagined future that might be embraced, mocked, or enacted, thereby turning dream into being. As a space of hope and shared imagination, the Soviet cityscape became a site where the vestiges of the past confronted the light of the future, and the present seemed to slip away, as if non-existent. Here, on the set of the socialist city, Soviet authorities drafted plans for growth, urban planners schemed of ways in which...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 171-222)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 223-226)
  18. References
    (pp. 227-246)
  19. Index
    (pp. 247-255)