While traveling in Poland in the mid-1990s, in the midst of its rocky transition from communism to markets, I noticed that one of the main topics of conversation was the details of home building and rebuilding. In particular, windows were discussed with great zeal. Those who lacked the material resources for major renovations would at least replace one or two windows. I also encountered a peculiar notion: the value of a house was not assessed on its location or design, but rather by the amount of money the owner had spent on windows. Small, white, two-leaf “communist windows” were no longer satisfactory—the measure of elegance was a dark mahogany frame with German fixtures. Some who had replaced their windows two years earlier were already longing for new ones, as if this periodic replacement of an architectural element was a tangible manifestation of their ability to keep up with rapid economic change.
KeywordsImperial Power Colonial Relation Major Renovation Latin American Condition Exceptional Nature
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