UCL Urban Laboratory


Marxist Morphologies: A Critique of Flat Infrastructures, Fuzzy Property and Complexified Cities

12 October 2015, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

Murawski MVC Seminar

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UCL Daryll Forde Seminar Room, 2nd Floor, 14 Taviton Street, WC1H 0BW

Drawing on examples from socialist-era and post-1989 Warsaw, Dr Michał Murawski (UCL SSEES) critiques some assumptions often made by urban anthropologists and other scholars of cities, with a focus on currently fashionable theories of 'infrastructure'. It problematizes some of the ways in which scholarship informed by ANT, assemblage theory and other varieties of (post)-postmodernism makes use of morphological optics to represent social life as necessarily 'flat', complex', 'fuzzy' and 'partial'. As a corrective, it posits a 'vertical' Marxist notion of infrastructure - founded on a dynamic understanding of the relationship between determining economic base and determined superstructure - as a way of providing a glimpse into another world. A world in which heretic morphologies - vertical planes, totalities, reductions of complexity - continue to thrive.

Dr Michał Murawski is Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, University College London. He completed his PhD in Social Anthropology at Cambridge in 2014. With a focus on Warsaw and Moscow, his work examines how cities in Eastern Europe grapple with socialist-era legacies in their built environments.

This lecture is part of the UCL Department of Anthropology Material, Visual and Digital Culture Seminar Series