Last year, Springer offered me a contract for a book expanding on my dissertation topic. I am very proud to announce that that manuscript is now finished and submitted, which means it should be published around the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this autumn, as planned!
“Inventing Berlin: Architecture, Politics and Cultural Memory in the New/Old German Capital Post-1989” studies the cultural landscape of East Berlin, including street names, monuments, buildings, architectural styles and urban planning, from a semiotic perspective. Through five case studies – street renaming, Alexanderplatz, Planwerk Innenstadt, critical reconstruction, and the Palace of the Republic/Prussian City Palace – I examined the range and scope of changes to the symbols written onto the city-text by the socialists after the city’s reunification. In so doing, I sought to answer three questions:
- What do changes to the cultural landscape of East Berlin reveal about official narratives of German identity after 1990?
- In which ways is East Berlin a “typical” post-socialist city and in which ways is it a special case? and
- Who were the key actors, what tactics did they employ and how did their influence and methods change over time?
The answers to these questions involved historical research into the ideological role of architecture and planning in the divided city, reading through lots (!) of official documentation and architecture publications from the early 1990s, and an analysis of German identity formation and propaganda during the country’s division. It was a very exciting few months and I’m looking forward to sharing more of the results with you soon!