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Between Town and Country: The Soviet City-Landscape Nexus in Global Perspective

Maria Taylor, University of Michigan, Mellon Fellow 2017–2018, Spring

My research focused on the historical relationship of Soviet urban environmental design to two better-known aspects of the Soviet project of “building socialism,” i.e., industrialization and the ideologically driven transformation of daily life. I argue that building socialism was never just about the buildings—and socialist urban landscape design was never just about leisure or aesthetics. Instead, I assert that the Soviet practice of city “greening” and “beautification” (ozelenenie i blagoustroistvo gorodov) encompassed a broader suite of objectives, from hygiene and pollution mitigation to political enrollment and ideological self-differentiation. I wrote the introductory chapter and revised three additional chapters of this project. Specifically, I became better able to situate my work in the context of landscape and garden studies, a necessary step toward integrating Soviet landscape design into global narratives of urbanization, modernization, and urban environmental history. I also produced a conference paper placing Cold War Soviet city-planning in relation to the Garden City lineage of town planning, which I presented in early May at the Columbia University GSAPP conference “Town & Country: Architecture Between Dichotomies.”