May 24, 2024

Harris Co-Organizes Second World Urbanity Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia

Steven E. Harris, Associate Professor of History, recently traveled to St. Petersburg, where he attended the conference “Living Cities of the Second World,” Feb. 27 to March 1, 2015.

The conference was the third that Harris and Daria Bocharnikova (Harvard University) have organized in the past year for the Second World Urbanity project. The conference featured two days of panel discussions on the history of urban planning, architecture, and the lived experience of socialist cities, not only in the former USSR and Eastern Europe but also Latin America (Managua) and East Africa (Dar es Salaam).

In addition to co-organizing the conference, Harris presented his paper, “Soviet Airports of the 1960s: Futuristic Gateways to Socialist Urbanity,” based on his current research project about the entangled histories of Aeroflot and Pan Am. While in St. Petersburg, he had the opportunity to conduct some research at the National Library and was also invited to speak to high school students at School No. 157, where he previously taught English for a year.


Harris Publishes Essay on the Communist Way of Life

Steven E. Harris, associate professor of history, published his essay, “Soviet Mass Housing and the Communist Way of Life,” in the volume Everyday Life in Russia Past and Present, eds., Choi Chatterjee, David L. Ransel, Mary Cavender, and Karen Petrone (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015). This edited collection of peer reviewed essays is published in the Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies, eds., Alexander Rabinowitch and William G. Rosenberg. The essays were originally presented at the conference, “Everyday Life in Russia: Strategies, Subjectivities and Perspectives,” held in 2010 at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Harris’s essay examines Soviet citizens’ move from communal housing to the single-family separate apartment under Khrushchev and how their everyday experiences intersected with the regime’s discourse on the “communist way of life.” It is based on the research of his book, Communism on Tomorrow Street: Mass Housing and Everyday Life after Stalin (Washington, D.C., and Baltimore: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

The following is a description of Everyday Life in Russia Past and Present from the Indiana University Press website:

“In these original essays on long-term patterns of everyday life in prerevolutionary, Soviet, and contemporary Russia, distinguished scholars survey the cultural practices, power relations, and behaviors that characterized daily existence for Russians through the post-Soviet present. Microanalyses and transnational perspectives shed new light on the formation and elaboration of gender, ethnicity, class, nationalism, and subjectivity. Changes in consumption and communication patterns, the restructuring of familial and social relations, systems of cultural meanings, and evolving practices in the home, at the workplace, and at sites of leisure are among the topics explored.”

Harris Co-Chairs Second World Urbanity Conference in Tallinn, Estonia

Steven E. Harris, associate professor in the Department of History and American Studies, co-chaired the conference, “Circulation, Translation, Transition,” which was held Oct. 10-12 at the Institute of Art History, Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, Estonia. This was the second of three conferences of the Second World Urbanity project, for which Harris and Daria Bocharnikova (Harvard University) are the co-organizers. The conference in Tallinn examined the circulation of ideas and designs about urban architecture and planning throughout the Second World, as well as the fate of socialist cities after 1989/1991. Attendees also enjoyed a tour of Tallinn’s socialist past at the conclusion of the conference. In addition to co-organizing the conference, Harris presented his paper, “Soviet Airports and Second World Urbanity in the Jet Age,” which is based on his research for his current book project on the entangled histories of Aeroflot and Pan Am.