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National Research University Higher School of EconomicsFacultiesVysokovsky Graduate School of UrbanismEventsPalaceology versus Post-Luzhkovology: Ethnographic Conceptualism in Urban Research, from Warsaw to Moscow

Palaceology versus Post-Luzhkovology: Ethnographic Conceptualism in Urban Research, from Warsaw to Moscow

Event ended

20 September, Wednesday 20:30
Dostoevsky Library (Chistoprudniy bulv., 23, bld. 1)
Free, required registration
Lecture will be presented in English


Image: Michał Murawski, Palaceology (Daniel Libeskind), Warsaw Museum of Modern Art, 2009.

‘Ethnographic conceptualism’ refers to ‘ethnography conducted as conceptual art and conceptual art conducted as ethnography’ (Ssorin-Chaikov 2013). This lecture is about how – and why – it is possible and beneficial to conduct ethnographic conceptualist experiments in urban settings. I present some of the methodological experiments I carried out during fieldwork on the social life of the Palace of Culture and Science – a Stalinist skyscraper ‘gifted’ to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955 – encompassing performative, provocative interventions into public debates and a large-scale quantitative survey. Defining the notion of ‘Palaceology’, I show how these experiments’ public scale and provocative style mirrored the bombastic manner and totalizing scope of the Palace’s presence in the city’s social life. Finally, I consider some of the pitfalls and possibilities, which one might encounter while conducting similar sorts of experiments in the context of 21st century Moscow.

Michał Murawski is an anthropologist of architecture. He is Leverhulme Fellow at the Department of Russian at Queen Mary, University of London and a Research Fellow at The Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014. His publications include the forthcoming book Palace Complex: The Social Life of a Stalinist Skyscraper in Capitalist Warsaw (Indiana University Press, 2018) and (co-edited with Jane Rendell), A Century of the Social Condenser, 1917-2017, a special issue of the Journal of Architecture (2017). He has contributed to Third Text: Critical Studies in Contemporary Art and Culture, Comparative Studies in Society and History, Anthropology Today, Social Text, Laboratorium, Focaal, The Calvert Journal, Strelka Magazine and The Architectural Review.

Alexander Strepetov
Chair and Respondent