UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

Dr Michal Murawski

Dr Michal Murawski

Lecturer in Critical Area Studies



Joined UCL
1st Sep 2014

Research summary

I am an anthropologist of architecture and of cities based at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, where I am Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Critical Area Studies. During 2017-2018, I carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Moscow, where I was Visiting Professsor at the Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, Higher School of Economics. 

My work focuses on the complex social lives of monumental buildings and on the architecture and planning of Eastern European communism. I am especially interested in the powerful - and subversive - impacts that communist-era built environments continue to exert on the capitalist cities of the 21st century.            

I received my PhD in social anthropology from Cambridge University in February 2014. My dissertation was about the Palace of Culture and Science, a vast Stalin-era skyscraper 'gifted' to Poland by the Soviet Union in 1955. My book on capitalist Warsaw's self-perceived 'obsession' with the Stalinist Palace, entitled Palace Complex, was published by Indiana University Press in March 2019. My Warsaw research has also resulted in several articles and book chapters, while my Polish-language book about the Palace was published by the Museum of Warsaw in July 2015.  
I am currently conducting a major research project on the urbanism of Putin-era Moscow, funded during 2016-2019 by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (held first at Queen Mary, University of London and subsequently at SSEES). In 2018, I co-curated the exhibition Portal Zaryadye - featuring 18 new works by Russian artists exploring the relationship between architecture, politics and ecology in contemporary Russia - at the  State Shchusev Museum of Architecture in Moscow. 
I am co-head of UCL's FRINGE Centre the Study of Social and Cultural Complexity; and co-convener (with Denis Maksimov and Masha Mileeva) of Perverting the Power Vertical (PPV), a nomadic research and event platform based at UCL. In 2020, PPV curated PiraMMMida.life, a virtual mutation of a show planned for that year's postponed Venice Biennale of Architecture; in 2019, PPV co-curated The Palace of Ritual in Venice's Palazzo Dona Brusà, held during the preview week of the 58th Venice Biennale of Art. 

Teaching summary

I am course leader for the following BA and MA modules at SSEES/UCL:
Cities in Eastern Europe (BA+MA course, SSEES), course coordinator, lecturer, seminar instructor
Researching Politics + Society (BA course, SSEES), course coordinator. Compulsory dissertation preparation module for SSEES Politics and Sociology second-year undergrads. 
Anthropology of Socialist and Post-Socialist Societies (BA+MA course, SSEES/UCL Anthropology), joint course coordinator (with Ruth Mandel), lecturer, seminar instructor. Suspended 2020-2021.
Interdisciplinary Area Studies: Critical Area Studies (MPhil+PhD course, SSEES, course coordinator, lecturer, seminar instructor)

In addition, I also give guest lectures on several other modules, including:

The Crisis of 1989 (HPE BA course, SSEES)
Qualitative Methods (MA course, SSEES), lecturer, seminar instructor

Political Analysis (MA course, SSEES)
All Quiet on the Eastern Front (MA course, SSEES)
Cities, Space and Power (MA course, Geography)

I have taught as a visiting lecturer at institutions including the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Architectural Association, the Cass School of Architecture, the Moscow Higher School of Economics, Cambridge University, Kharkiv School of Architecture, TU München, Manchester University, Princeton University, the New School, the Spitzer School of Architecture, the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Warsaw.

I have supervised MA and BA dissertations at UCL SSEES, UCL Anthropology, the Bartlett, Cambridge and the Higher School of Urban Studies at the Moscow Higher School of Economics. 
PhD students
I am open to enquiries from prospective PhD students looking to work on architecture, urbanism, art and material culture in the socialist and post-socialist world.  
I am currently supervising two PhD students:
Elena Agofonova (expected 2023): Norms and regulations in Soviet housing 1970-2017 (UCL Bartlett, with Iain Borden)
Kelsey Weber (expected 2022): Tatar Muslim women in Poland (Anthropology/SSEES, with Ruth Mandel)


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2014
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Philosophy | 2008
School of Oriental and African Studies
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 2006