SAMUTINA N., STEPANOV B. (EDS.) (2014) TSARITSYNO: ATTRAKCION S ISTORIEJ
[TSARITSYNO: AN ATTRACTION WITH HISTORY] (IN RUSSIAN), MOSCOW: NOVOE LITERATURNOYE OBOZRENIE. 464 P. ISBN 978-5-4448- 0171-0
Research Assistant, National Research University Higher School of Economics
In the last few decades, the attempts to conceptualize urban life focused upon particular cities and places. New York City and Berlin became the illustrations of gentrification processes, and Paris is known as the canonical case of a re-planned space. Certain parks, shopping malls, squares, and transportation systems became the sites for studying sociality in cultural geography and urban studies. At the same time, accounts that describe how urban spaces in Moscow are transformed, what are their qualities, meanings, typical forms of interaction, what images of the city prevail, how communities appropriate spaces, and what are the historically-defined areas, are scarce. Recently, several projects were organized to accomplish a social cartography of Moscow and portray its citizens (see, for instance, “Archaeology of the Periphery”, presented at the Moscow Urban Forum 2013 2). However, such research is primarily done in a quantitative manner and could not provide an elaborate description of what life in different parts of the city is like. An ethnographic study is able to add vivid details to the image of Moscow. That is why the book Tsaritsyno: An Attraction with History is so important. It is a great example of what has to be done to begin answering the questions of Russian urban spaces. The research is object-centered. It is a thorough, multifaceted analysis of the reservemuseum Tsaritsyno, a place in contemporary Moscow where new collective experiences are formed, and a place that contests traditional ideas about historicity while introducing significant patterns of visual perception. The book is the result of a project led by Natalia Samutina at the Higher School of Economics. The study, carried out in 2009–2012, was a collaborative work of an interdisciplinary group including students as well as experienced researchers. Topics that were not initially subjects of the study but were found to be important were covered by several invited guest authors.