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 Associate Professor in Critical Area Studies. During 2017-2018, I carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Moscow.
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 Shchusev Museum of Architecture in Moscow.
I am Director 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.
Portrait by Olga Alexeyenko