Populism is often described as a response to globalization, to the erosion of old
certainties, to the uprooting of a sense of home. Supporters of populist
politicians react to what they feel is a loss of place and a devaluation, in public
life, of things they hold dear. Yet place matters regardless of political
preference. From geography to sociology and from history to anthropology, the
significance of places and multiple attachments to them, of situated action and
communication, has come to the fore across the social sciences in recent years.
Public art has also discovered pre-existing attachments to places: from sitespecific
works created by artists with no prior attachment to those sites, there is
now a move toward more equal forms of co-creation involving local residents.
Introducing our workshop, this talk surveys different approaches to
understanding the significance of places, offering new insights not only into
populism, but also into forms of togetherness and solidarity that might point
Mischa Gabowitsch is a researcher at the Einstein Forum. He holds a BA from
Oxford and a PhD from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in
Paris and is a former fellow of the Princeton University Society of Fellows, as
well as former editor-in-chief of the journals Neprikosnovenny zapas (Moscow)
and Laboratorium: Russian Review of Social Research (Saint Petersburg).
Based on ethnographic fieldwork, oral history, and archival research, his work
has focused primarily on the Soviet Union and post-socialist countries, and he
has written on societal responses to nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, war,
and Stalinist terror; on protest and social movements; and on monuments,
memorials, and cemeteries. His most recent book publications are Protest in
Putin’s Russia (2016), Kriegsgedenken als Event: Der 9. Mai 2015 im
postsozialistischen Europa (2017, as co-editor) and Replicating Atonement:
Foreign Models in the Commemoration of Atrocities (2017, as editor). At
present he is working on a history of Soviet war memorials. In all his work he
has been particularly interested in the role specific places play in social action.