Alice Howells on the Russian soul and its capital cities

“Russia, as befits its divided soul, had two capital cities.” Sidney Monas’ contentious statement, from a commentary on Moscow and Saint Petersburg as cultural symbols, begins the debate surrounding the two cities. Does Russia have a divided soul? If so, where does this divide lie, and do Moscow and Saint Petersburg truly represent bisected halves of the Russian soul?

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Ross Smith on social identity in the Metro

When people describe a city’s construction in its simplest sense, they tend to discuss the architecture, the way in which the streets and roads intersect, the way nature is embedded within the urban infrastructure to take away from the far too often grey and industrial skyline. All of these things create a social identity and a sense of belonging to said particular city. What doesn’t often get discussed, however, is how the formation of the city from below creates a social identity. A huge advancement in the structure of the city is the construction of the undergrounds. Metros, subways, undergrounds (or whatever you wish to call them) become fundamental in the everyday life of modern society and can be seen as a source of identity. Moreover, they have become marketable to general public as a tourist attraction so their iconicity can be seen in souvenir shops throughout the cities in which they reside.

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