Book: Landscape changes in East Berlin after 1989 – a comprehensive grounded theory analysis through three case studies

Dellenbaugh, Mary. 2013. Landscape changes in East Berlin after 1989 – a comprehensive grounded theory analysis through three case studies. Dissertation. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

Available for download here.

This dissertation describes a range of connected changes that took place in the eastern half of Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The three articles tell the story of immediate changes to discourses about built spaces and built space forms (article 1), symbolic appropriations in the negotiations surrounding the creation of a new unified Berliner inner-city (article 2), and the effect of the changes in discursive and symbolic restructurings in the subsequent development of two Berlin districts with different built space types (article 3). Under the framework of grounded theory, this project operationalized several semiotic analysis techniques for the study of the cultural landscape and combined these with discourse analysis and demographic data to derive the results presented in the three articles described above. The project was guided by five hypotheses: H1: Semiotics is an effective analytical method for the analysis of cultural landscapes. H2: The symbolic landscape of East Berlin after 1990 was dominated by a western cultural mythos which pervaded the symbolic capital and architectural style of the new/old capital city. H3: The changes to the symbolic landscape of East Berlin after 1990 reflected a very specific and narrow pre-WWI historical narrative. H4: This discursive transference had tangible material effects on the material and demographic development of the Eastern districts. H5: The stigmatization of Berlin-Marzahn directly after German reunification was primarily due to this discursive transference. All five hypotheses could be successfully tested and validated from the empirical research. The mix of methods presented in this project proved well-suited to the structural analysis of cultural landscapes. Both it and the theory developed, namely that the narrative of the dominant power, economic, political, or colonial, can be “read” by examining the symbols embedded in the cultural landscape, would benefit from further research in other contexts.

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