MODSCAPES’ TUB Team is proud to announce that our proposed session:

Rural Areas in the Post-Socialist Context

was selected for the

“International Conference on Cities and Change. Three decades of Post-Socialist Transition”

Darmstadt, 17-18 May 2019

by Urban Morphosis Lab

The call for papers is now open!

Rural Areas in the Post-Socialist Context (by Vittoria Capresi, Emily Bereskin, TUB)

The transition from socialism to capitalism has strongly affected cities, yet the repercussions have had an equal, if not far stronger, impact on rural areas. Many factors, including the socialist rural economy, socialist planning theories, the collectivization of land, and the transfer of town planning schemes onto rural villages entirely reshaped the rural areas with consequences that are clearly visible today. After 1989/91, rural areas had to face completely new challenges and reinvent old systems in order to survive within the new capitalist economy. Today, thirty years after the collapse of state socialism, the impact is more present than ever: rural areas are marked by a widespread shrinkage of villages, the general absence of planning strategies for the rehabilitation of abandoned or empty buildings, and in some cases, agricultural policies that have led to the vast expansion of monoculture crops.

The scholarly study of post-socialism has largely focused on urban case-studies, sidelining phenomena currently occurring in rural areas and villages, and which are rooted in socialist political administration and economy. In this session we therefore seek to open up the central themes of the Three Decades of Post-Socialist Transition conference to the investigation of rural areas and rural/urban relationships.

Questions we wish to raise include:

  • What is the impact of socialist rural planning today?
  • What is the impact of the relation between urban and rural in the past and today?
  • How has the transition affected agricultural practices and policies?
  • How are politics of memory-making and heritage shaped in rural areas?
  • What is the relationship between the built environment and nature in post-socialist rural
  • areas?
  • How might themes such as tourism, branding, and gentrification, typically theorized in relation to urban areas, be conceptualized or play out in post-socialist rural settings?

We welcome proposals from any discipline and with any geographic focus that investigate the cultural, political, or economic themes of the conference in rural areas. Although stand-alone case-studies are welcome, we are seeking contributions that point toward a larger theoretical understanding of rural areas and rural-urban relationships in post-socialist contexts.


After the collapse of state socialism in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the former socialist countries’ inclusion into the competitive global economies advanced as both; temporally and spatially uneven processes. These uneven processes presented myriad diversities, thereby implying significant shifts and high levels of creativity in finding ways of adapting to new forms of socio-political realities, which in turn offered a multitude of opportunities for urban research. Subsequently, scholarly attention has been paid particularly on examining interconnections between historical-, sociological-, and market-related aspects of transitioning processes. However, the exact implications of their spatial transformations have been largely absent within systematic research. Contrary to the often more adaptable socio-political structures of cities, built urban environment requires more time to adapt to changes and consequently reflect the new ideological concepts. This thereby warrants thirty years of comprehensive transition (1989-2019) as an optimum point of departure for undertaking a thorough and in-depth reflection. Hence, the international conference “Three Decades of Post-socialist Transition” seeks to bring together leading urban academics to discuss issues of post-socialist transition and a multitude of its effects on built urban environment from diverse perspectives. In addition, we also aim to challenge and advance both our knowledge and practice around the complex links within the neoliberal development agenda, socio-political changes, post-socialist identity formation, representation of cities and the urban space.

For Papers (NOW OPEN! until 10th of November 2018)
Please submit your abstracts using the link below by November 10th, 2018. The submission should contain:

  • An abstract of max. 300 words, containing: proposed title, the core theme or hypothesis, the approach and methodology, broad findings to be delivered in your paper;
  • Full contact details of the author(s): Name, affiliation, postal address, phone number and email;
  • Short academic biography of the author(s).
  • Please also specify for which session you wish to apply for.


Important Deadlines

  • 11 Sep. 2018 – Call for papers open
  • 10 Nov. 2018 – Deadline for abstract submission
  • 30 Nov. 2018 – Notification of selected abstracts
  • 01 Dec. 2018 – Registration opens
  • 31 Jan. 2019 – Deadline for early bid registration
  • 28 Feb. 2019 – Deadline for paper submission
  • 01 Apr. 2019 – Final Conference programme

Location and venue
Darmstadt is a city in the German state of Hessen, conveniently located in the southern part of the Frankfurt Metropolitan Region. As the former capital of a prosperous sovereign country, the Grand Duchy of Hesse, Darmstadt gained some international prominence. This further grew with rapid industrialisation in the 19th century, as well as at the beginning of the 20th century, when Darmstadt became an important centre for the art movement of Jugendstil, the German variant of Art Nouveau. However, during the Second World War; over three quarters of the inner city was destroyed, leading to a comprehensive reconstruction and renovation period afterwards. Nonetheless, the city played  host to numerous technology companies, research institutes, the ESOC (European Space Operations Centre) and GSI (Centre for Heavy Ion Research), leading it to be officially promoted as the “City of Science” since 1997.

The conference will take place in Technische Universität Darmstadt, which is one of the leading universities of technology in Germany. The sessions will be held on its city centre campus, offering plenty of opportunities to explore the city centre. The main conference venue will be the listed heritage building- the Altes Hauptgebäude (the Old Main University Building, S1|03, Hochschulstraße 1).

Vittoria Capresi
Emily Bereskin