Anastasiya Halauniova (Golovneva) is a Ph.D. candidate at cultural sociology programm group at AISSR. She started her Ph.D. in November, 2016. She received her M.A. in sociology at the European University at St. Petersburg (Russia). Her research interests lay at the intersection of cultural soicology and urban studies. She is interested in how particular architectural spaces gain their aesthetic and non-aesthetic value especially in the context of complex, multilayered history of reposession and transition from socialism.
What can urban aesthetics and design, the way it is perceived, experienced and produced, tell us about urban political regimes and imaginaries? When it comes to urban architecture and built environment, how “historical” becomes “authentic” and therefore - “beautiful”, and does “beautiful” have a political connotation? Why pavement stone, socialist concrete blocks and brick color become the major sites of contestation and public concern in particular post-repossessed cities? These issues are not trivial. The sites and spaces imbued with historical meaning are not only utilised as strategic sites of contestation, but they are politically mobilised and enacted. Namely these relations between urban material forms, aesthetic judgements and their political meanings are the major focus of Anastasiya's research project "Urban Aesthetics in Post-Repossessed Cities with German Past: Practices of Assessing and Producing Aestetic Properties of Architecture".
The literature that inform her thinking on the issue is of two theoretical traditions. The studies on valuation practices demonstrate the power of cultural (in this case - aesthetic) judgements on the transformation of social relations and distinctions (Lamont, 2012; Chong and Lamont, 2016). The growing literature on materiality, its effects and agentic capacities, on the other hand, emphasizes that value making and symbolic distinctions may account for and be reordered by particular material qualities of space (Keane, 2005; Goebel, 2016).
The project is a comparative study of aesthetic valuations of architecture in cities with German past, Wroclaw in Poland and Klaipeda in Lithuania, characterized by complex relations to its German past and hence, to the architecture of the German period, as well as to the architectural sites associated with the socialist epoch of the city's history. In these cities the examination of aesthetic valuation becomes a powerful instrument of revealing how issues of belonging, memory, nostalgia, democracy and post-socialist transformations actualize themselves in the aesthetic forms and judgments.