MODSCAPES team members to chair a roundtable at the upcoming Modernist Studies Association’s conference
The MSA-Modernist Studies Association’s 19th international conference dedicated to “Modernism today”, will be held in Amsterdam, at the Berlage Beurs, on 10-13 August 2017.
Deep in the countryside: current trends in Modernism research
Most of the time, Modernism – as the cultural and artistic expression of core modern values – is associated with urban and industrial contexts, in stark contrast to a “backward countryside”. Just as the export of Western modernisms to the colonies and developing countries gave rise to the “other” (or “hybrid”) modernism, the adoption of modernism in the countryside caused modern values to blur. Focusing on “modernist reinventions of the rural landscape”, the MODSCAPES project (funded under by the HERA JRP III call dedicated to the “Uses of the Past”, Oct. 2016-2019) specifically questions these preconceived ideas.
During the 20th century, large-scale agricultural development schemes reshaped the countryside throughout Europe and beyond. They were conceived in different political and ideological contexts – from the Fascist reclamation of the Pontine Marshes to Zionist agricultural colonisation, from hydraulic works and refugee settlement in 1920s Greece to Soviet forced collectivisation of the Baltic-States countryside – combining major land reclamation works with the (re)settlement of problematic groups. Aimed at modernizing the countryside, these were pivotal experiments in nation-building policies, a testing ground for the ideas, and tools, of environmental and social scientists, architects and engineers, planners and landscape architects, as well as artists, who converged around the common challenge.
The present roundtable proposal invites participants involved in MODSCAPES to deliver short position statements on the following points:
How did rural environments entail typical modernist themes such as speed, technology, scientific progress, human control of nature, etc.? Which specific themes emerged from the encounter with the imagination and materiality ofthe rural? How far did such ideas of progress became subservient to authoritarian ideologies?
While hovering between the past, alleged vernacular authenticity, and idealised visions of a possible future, what did “past” and “future” actually mean in each different context?
Some modernist rural landscapes include bold architectural experiments, some instead are characterised by innovative landscape features, others deserve our attention for their cultural impact (on literature, folk music, etc.). Which key agents contributed in shaping a new “place identity”?
What is the present legacy of modernist rural landscapes? Is this mainly consisting of the built environment, or rather is it a form of “intangible heritage”?
Bearing in mind the current refugee crisis, can modernist rural landscapes be a precedent to envisage new ways to combine welfare, planning and re(settlement) policies, or more sustainable settlement patterns?
Dr. Cristina Pallini, MODSCAPES Principal Investigator, Politecnico di Milano
Dr. Axel Fisher, FNRS postdoctoral researcher, Université libre de Bruxelles
to be announced
to be annouced