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Races to Modernity

Metropolitan Aspirations in Eastern Europe, 1890-1940

Edited by Jan C. Behrends and Martin Kohlrausch

Publication Year: 2014

This volume succeeds beautifully in conveying a detailed sense of urban development in Eastern Europe and the crucial importance of cities for the moderniszation of Eastern Europe during the half century before World War II.

Published by: Central European University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

List of Maps

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xii

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1. Races to Modernity: Metropolitan Aspirations in Eastern Europe, 1890–1940: An Introduction

Jan C. Behrends, Martin Kohlrausch

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pp. 1-20

In his renowned “Iron Curtain” speech—delivered on March 5, 1946, in Fulton, Missouri—Winston Churchill evoked the “famous cities” of Central and Eastern Europe. Alerting the distant American public to the division of Europe, Churchill listed what he believed to be household names like Bucharest, Sofia, Budapest, and...

The Social and the National Question in the Eastern Metropolis

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2. Modernity as Mask: Reality, Appearance, and Knowledge on the Petersburg Street

Mark D. Steinberg

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pp. 23-48

The social and symbolic significance of St. Petersburg as Russia’s most deliberately modern city—with “Europe” often standing for the “modern”—inspired a body of often obsessive writing about the imperial capital. No other Russian city, and few other world cities, have produced such a flood of words about the spaces and symbolism of...

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3. Modernist Visions and Mass Politics in Late Imperial Kiev

Faith Hillis

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pp. 49-72

The rise of mass politics—no less than the appearance of trams, department stores, and factories—marked fin-de-siècle Europe’s passage into modernity. From Paris to Prague, representatives of the lower middle and working classes rose up to challenge the bourgeois-liberal domination of the continent’s cities. The practitioners...

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4. Creating Polish Wilno, 1919–1939

Theodore R. Weeks

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pp. 73-100

In the interwar period newly formed (or resurrected, or expanded) Eastern European states were faced with a number of difficult challenges, among them the need to modernize and to nationalize their populations.1 While modern national movements had been developing here for decades or even generations, it is clear that even among...

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5. Modern Moscow: Russia’s Metropolis and the State from Tsarism to Stalinism

Jan C. Behrends

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pp. 101-124

On 2 February 1931, Joseph Stalin gave a speech to the assembled managers of socialist industry in Moscow. For the third year of the first five-year plan, the Bolshevik leader demanded an ever higher increase in production. But he also talked more generally about Russia’s path to modernity. Stalin warned his audience “not to...

Urbanism Goes East: The Development of Capitals, Infrastructure, and Planning

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6. Athens, 1890–1940: Transitory Modernism and National Realities

Eleni Bastéa

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pp. 127-152

As the painter M. G. wakes up, wrote Charles Baudelaire around 1860, he “watches the flow of life move by, majestic and dazzling. He admires the eternal beauty and the astonishing harmony of life in the capital cities, a harmony so providentially maintained in the tumult of human liberty. He gazes at the landscape of the great...

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7. Between Rivalry, Irrationality, and Resistance: The Modernization of Belgrade, 1890–1914

Dubravka Stojanović

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pp. 153-178

Winding streets, blind alleys, representative buildings in unfitting locations, central districts without clear urban planning, crooked single-story shacks that lean against modern multistory buildings, almost unsolvable traffic problems—this situation in present-day Belgrade is the product of specific modernization processes that...

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8. Architectural Praxis in Sofia: The Changing Perception of Oriental Urbanity and European Urbanism, 1879–1940

Elitza Stanoeva

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pp. 179-204

Sofia became Bulgaria’s national capital in March 1879, a year after the country’s emancipation from the Ottoman Empire.1 This structured the agenda of urban development in accordance with the higher objective of nation state building. During the post-Ottoman decades, the constellation of architectural landmarks epitomizing...

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9. Warszawa Funkcjonalna: Radical Urbanism and the International Discourse on Planning in the Interwar Period

Martin Kohlrausch

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pp. 205-232

Little was lacking for Warsaw to become for a short but significant moment the center of modern architecture. Early in 1933 it became apparent that the CIAM IV congress, the fourth meeting of the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM) could not be staged, as planned, in Moscow. One year earlier, Stalin had publicly...

Ostmoderne? East European Modernism

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10. Capital Modernism in the Baltic Republics: Kaunas, Tallinn, and Riga

Steven A. Mansbach

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pp. 235-266

For many of the new republics that emerged in the wake of World War I, modern architecture served two principal purposes: first, to provide much-needed housing for those dislocated in the shift of national borders and to replace governmental buildings destroyed during the conflict and ensuing civil strife; and second, to assert...

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11. Imperial and National Helsinki: Shaping an Eastern or Western Capital City?

Laura Kolbe

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pp. 267-288

Helsinki, mixing many aspects of its Swedish, Russian, and national history, has its own specific character, linked to its geopolitical location on the shore of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki’s development during the nineteenth century was similar to that of many other medium-size capitals in Continental, Eastern, and Northern Europe, and...

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12. Modernizing Zagreb: The Freedom of the Periphery

Eve Blau

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pp. 289-312

At a conference held in Cracow in 1996 on “The Historical Metropolis,” Karl Schlögel made an important observation about cities in Central and Eastern Europe. In an answer to his own question: “What do we have to offer?”, he suggested: “Perhaps there is something that cannot be fully expressed in terms of shillings or marks, something...


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pp. 313-344

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List of Contributors

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pp. 345-348

Eleni Bastéa, PhD, Professor at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico. Fields of research: urban and architectural history, memory and architecture, as well as culture and architecture. Selected publications: Memory and Architecture (editor) (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico...


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pp. 349-356

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789633860366
Print-ISBN-13: 9789633860359

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2014

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 889644653
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Races to Modernity

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Cities and towns -- Europe, Eastern -- Growth -- History -- 19th century.
  • Cities and towns -- Europe, Eastern -- Growth -- History -- 20th century.
  • Social change -- Europe, Eastern -- History.
  • City planning -- Europe, Eastern -- History.
  • City and town life -- Europe, Eastern -- History.
  • Capitals (Cities) -- Europe, Eastern -- History.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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