Past events
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Palaces of Culture featured prominently in the educational and cultural policies of socialist states. As places of encounter and education, of culture and sport, they were part of the social engineering practised by the state. At the same time, they were architectural icons of many Eastern, Central and Southern European capitals.

But Palaces of Culture were found not only in the heart of socialist metropolises. “Houses of Culture” were systematically established in smaller towns and suburbs too, where people could take advantage of education, culture and sports offerings that also served to shape the “socialist citizen”. Then, in the years of change around 1989, Houses and Palaces of Culture played an important role as physical venues in the system transformation. Today, the architectural and cultural heritage of these Palaces is handled in ways that are as diverse as the societies of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. In five panel discussions curated by the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), visitors to the Humboldt Forum will take a look at Warsaw, Kyiv, Belgrade and Minsk together with guests from the respective countries. They will learn more about the socialist idea of Palaces of Culture, urban debates, revolutions in the city environment, international discourses, political protests, state power, and shrinking spaces for culture.


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Today, official spaces such as the “Palace of Arts” in Minsk are no longer available to independent Belarusian artists, authors and cultural creators – in fact, many have left the country in fear of arrest and condemnation. Artists’ residencies, exhibitions and events abroad, but also private retreats and the internet offer alternative spaces for independent art. The panel asks: What role did cultural practitioners play during the peaceful protests against rigged presidential elections in the summer of 2020, which were crushed by brutal police violence? How does the search for alternative spaces work? Our guests are an artist, an academic, and a translator from Belarus.

Antanina Slabodchykava, artist, Dresden
Dr. Andrei Vazyanau, Assistant Professor for Social Sciences, European Humanities University, Vilnius

Iryna Herasimovich, Translator and essayist, Zurich University



other events of the series of talks

The series “Palaces for the People. Palaces of Culture in Eastern Europe Before and After 1989” is curated by the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
Belongs to
Post/Socialist Palaces