Dr Michal Murawski has been awarded a prestigious Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and will join the Russian department in September for the next three years. Dr Murawski's research project is entitled 'Moscow Makeover: Architecture and Politics in Putin's Paradise'. It deals with Zaryadye Park, a grand architectural project currently under construction next to Red Square.
On the one hand, Zaryadye is fabled as a top-down initiative of Putin’s, the President’s ‘gift’ to Moscow. On the other, Moscow's Mayoralty frames Zaryadye as the flagship element in a fresh drive to 'democratise' and 'de-monumentalise' Moscow's urban landscape. Dr Murawski's research will comprise an in-depth, ethnographic study of Zaryadye-under-construction.
Situated at the intersection of urban anthropology, architectural theory and political theory, its key objective is to scrutinize widely-held understandings of how shapes and styles attach themselves to political and economic ideologies and processes. Did the utopian fantasies and totalitarian excesses of the 20th century find their natural urban expression in grand monuments, sprawling plazas and soaring towers? Do – or should – the democratic cities of the 21st century incline towards humbler, more organic, ephemeral forms? And what happens when Moscow, a city governed today by the iron hierarchy of Vladimir Putin’s ‘power vertical’ (vertikal’ vlasti), suddenly decides to undergo a ‘democratizing’ aesthetic makeover? These are some of the questions Dr Murawski will address through the case study of Zaryadye.