Post-socialism and De-industrialisation

Socialist cities were created, sculpted in form to mirror the ideal social reality that the regimes wanted to build. The under-urbanized peasant cultures of the East provided ample ground for modernist, social(ist) engineering on a vast scale. The Project for the city of Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, dictated top down and included large industrial zones which enclave it almost to its core, often following rail infrastructure which serviced industrial enterprise.

Even now, administrative maps show their breadth in the distinctive purple colour often used to denote those spaces. Their role as borders of administrative sub-regions within the city is undoubted, yet recent years have seen the decay of most industries held within and subsequently those borders have become less functional and more a lasting symbol of liminality, engendering different modalities of power, of subjugation under administrative control and revealing the various uneven and incomplete modalities of development.

Through a set of interviews with people who route through these spaces, those who inhabit them, as well as administrators and professionals who are deemed responsible for executing and creating them, we unravel the ways in which the city in the classic adage of modernism, becomes a symbol of social order, but in an ironic twist of fate, it now communicates not the superior realities hinted at by social engineers, but the various forms of socio-economic and ethnic inequalities contained within the palimpsest of those spaces. The project included extensive photographic documentation which accompany the paper.