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’s Palace of Serbia (Palata Srbije), formerly the “Palace of the Federation”, and colloquially known as “Palata SIV” (Palace of the Federal Executive Council), is by no means out of place amid Belgrade’s modern architecture – it rather looks like a testimony to Le Corbusier’s International Style. Carefully planned, its styling was once intended to underline Yugoslavia’s new role as leader of the non-aligned countries in global politics. Its official opening in 1961 marked the first Conference of Heads of State or Government of Non-Aligned Countries, where the basic principles of a non-aligned alternative to East or West were formulated: the struggle for peace and disarmament, and against division into economic and military political blocks. The features of this movement, to which the Palace of Serbia also belonged, show that the international path of Europe’s East was at the same time a strategy against its own marginalisation on the European continent. The discussion will reflect on the breaks and tensions in the non-aligned world order – and its postcolonial impacts to the present day.

Prof. Dr. Radina Vučetić, Professor of Modern History, Belgrade University
Dr. Nemanja Radonjić, Assistant Professor teaching history, imagology, colonialism and anticolonialism in the 20th century, Belgrade University

Prof. Dr. Hannes Grandits, Professor of Southeast European History at the Humboldt University of Berlin


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