Please join the Harriman Institute, the East Central European Center, and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York for a talk by Michał Murawski on his book Palace Complex: A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed (Indiana University Press, 2019). The talk will culminate in an open discussion with the author joined by Reinhold Martin and moderated by Małgorzata Mazurek.
The Palace of Culture and Science is a massive Stalinist skyscraper that was "gifted" to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955. Framing the Palace's visual, symbolic, and functional prominence in everyday life as a sort of obsession, locals joke that their city suffers from a "Palace of Culture complex." In his book that takes this “complex” as its title, Michał Murawski traces the skyscraper's powerful impact on twenty-first-century Warsaw; on its architectural and urban landscape; on its political, ideological, and cultural lives; and on the bodies and minds of its inhabitants. Palace Complex explores the many factors that allow Warsaw’s Palace to endure as a still-socialist building in a post-socialist city.
Michał Murawski is an anthropologist of architecture and art based at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where he is Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Critical Area Studies. His work focuses on the complex social lives of monumental buildings and on the architecture and planning of East European communism. He is especially interested in the powerful - and subversive - impacts that communist-era architectures, infrastructures and aesthetics continue to exert on the capitalist cities of the twenty-first century.