Dr. Elitza Stanoeva (MON Fellow, Oct ‘21 – Jun ‘22) will give introductory talk on the topic:
Fellows Seminar: Architects and Heritage Demolition in Late Socialism and After: Politics of History versus Politics of Profession
on 21 October, 2021 (Thursday) at 16:30 h.
Moderated by Dr. Aneta Vassileva.
This presentation will outline my project’s research agenda and case studies along with its hypotheses, types of sources and research questions. The project investigates how architects responded to politically dictated demolition of architectural heritage in Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s largest cities, in two periods: late socialism when the relics of the ‘bourgeois-monarchic era’ were still subjected to ‘socialist reconstruction’, and post-1989 transition when socialist landmarks became targets of ‘decommunization’ and ‘visual lustration’. At the focus of my study is a dual politicization of architectural heritage: obliteration triggered by memory politics and expert advocacy for preservation. I analyze the latter through the lens of politics of profession, i.e. as part of a coherent vision of both a harmonious city and the architect’s role in its production. My working hypothesis is that architectural heritage was a stake in architects’ quest for reclaiming expert agency and public relevance before and after 1989, tackled in conjunction with larger professional themes and urban problems: issues of authorship and collegial solidarity; problems of environmental and social deterioration; questions of cultural identity and historical value. The project methodology is discourse analysis of the following types of primary sources: (1) stenographic records of discussions within architects’ organizations, specialized architectural journals and architects’ publications in mass media; (2) state decrees and programs related to urban (re)planning; (3) changing legal definitions and conservation procedures concerning material heritage and cultural monuments.