Chasing Warsaw: Socio-Material Dynamics of Urban Change by (eds.) Monika Grubbauer, Joanna Kusiak

By (eds.) Monika Grubbauer, Joanna Kusiak

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G. , 51). Alternatively, similarities in post-socialist urban transformations are seen as the result of material legacies of the socialist city (Borén and Gentile 2007). Although it is a matter of controversy whether the socialist city ever existed as a distinct, autonomous urban model,2 there is broad agreement that cities under socialism developed a set of specific socio-spatial features that set them apart from cities in capitalist Western Europe and North America. 3 Warsaw’s post-war reconstruction followed these ideals closely.

2009; Kliems and Dmitrieva 2010). Most recently, urban research in post-socialist cities has notably turned toward more grounded, qualitative and ethnographic approaches to examine how ordinary citizens make sense of, appropriate and transform urban spaces in their daily social, cultural and economic practices (Alexander et al. 2007; Darieva et al. 2011; Stenning et al. 2010; Hirt 2012). In the post-socialist city debate two theoretical issues have concerned researchers repeatedly without, however, always addressing or theorizing them explicitly, as I will argue.

5. The bazaar as the paradigmatic phenomenon of post-socialist urbanity The bazaar was not “introduced” by anybody, but was simply there, overnight and almost like an act of nature. It also existed in a hidden and stunted form in the Soviet years, at the periphery of large cities, but especially in border towns and harbor towns. It was tolerated because there, at least, some of the pressure caused by the general shortages could be relieved somewhat. The black market was the reverse of the planned economy, and how could it be otherwise.

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