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Bloom and Bust

Bloom and Bust: Urban Landscapes in the East since German Reunification

Gwyneth Cliver
Carrie Smith-Prei
Series: Space and Place
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    Bloom and Bust
    Book Description:

    More than two decades of deconstruction, renovation, and reconstruction have left the urban environments in the former German Democratic Republic completely transformed. This volume considers the changing urban landscapes in the former East - and how the filling of previous absences and the absence of previous presence - creates the cultural landscape of modern unified Germany. This broadens our understanding of this transformation by examining often-neglected cities, spaces, or structures, and historical narration and preservation.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-491-5
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    Anyone familiar with the discourse surrounding the unification process in Germany during the 1990s, and even during the first decade of the twenty-first century, knows well how central a role concerns about the built environment in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR)—architecture, monuments, urban design—have played. Old town centers that had been neglected by the GDR government in favor of new construction in prefabricated housing complexes became celebrated loci of historical preservation. A few high-profile demolitions occurred alongside countless ones of generic residences across the new federal states. Beloved structures, most famously the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)...

  6. Part I. Groundwork

    • Chapter 1 Preserving the Past Before and After the Wende: A Case Study of Quedlinburg
      (pp. 21-44)

      TheWenderesulted in dramatic political, economic, and social changes in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). These changes were also visible in the urban fabric, as some urban development projects from GDR times were stopped or modified and new projects started to promote the development of cities according to Western ideas and standards. For example, urban planning was now no longer aimed at producing “socialist cities”; instead, diff erent planning priorities were set such as improving the quality of housing, implementing sustainable practices, and preserving valuable architectural heritage. Furthermore, money and construction materials were now available so that projects...

    • Chapter 2 No Man’s Land: Fiction and Reality in Buddy Giovinazzo’s Potsdamer Platz
      (pp. 45-64)

      Times of great social upheaval have frequently created fertile ground for crime fiction, as authors and readers join forces in the attempt to understand the transformations and also to seek comfort in the hope that all will turn out for the best. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, for example, appears just in time to reassure the population of late-nineteenth-century London that this rapidly expanding and changing city is not to be feared at all; keen observation and clear logic can still provide the keys to understanding the city. Some hundred years later, Buddy Giovinazzo’sPotsdamer Platz³ sends its first-person narrator,...

  7. Part II. Projections

    • Chapter 3 Cinematic Reflections of Germany’s Postunification Woes: Architecture and Urban Space of Frankfurt (Oder) in Halbe Treppe, Lichter, and Kombat Sechzehn
      (pp. 67-87)

      In brief succession, three German films about the eastern German bordertown Frankfurt (Oder) were released during the early years of the twenty-first century. At first glance, the filmsHalbe Treppe(Grill Point; Andreas Dresen, 2002),Lichter(Distant Lights; Hans-Christian Schmid, 2003), andKombat Sechzehn(Kombat Sechzehn; Mirko Borscht, 2005) appear to have little in common other than their primary location at the easternmost fringe of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), divided from its Polish twin city Słubice only by the river Oder. I propose, however, that the choice of setting is far from coincidence. The directors use Frankfurt as...

    • Chapter 4 Reclaiming the Thuringian Tuscany: The Touristic Appeal of Bad Sulza and its Toskana Therme
      (pp. 88-113)

      With its focus on the less known, little town of Bad Sulza—a federally recognized brine spa and wine town of three thousand inhabitants tucked away in the idyllic Thuringian landscape at the foothills of the Finne mountains—this case study goes where few have gone before. As Tim Coles has pointed out, in spite of the German Federal Government’s constitutional guarantees of convergence, its drive, and considerable progress to develop tourism, the so-called “under-developed and under-exploited sector” in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), the new GermanBundesländer(federal states) have “been practically invisible in discourses on tourism in...

    • Chapter 5 Berlin through the Lens: Space and (National) Identity in the Postunification Capital
      (pp. 114-141)

      The twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was publicly celebrated in many ways. Most of these events naturalized the triumph of capitalism—read as democracy—and suggested a linear path toward a united nation and people. Yet, geographical, social, and cultural unification did not match the political. In Berlin, divisions reside in streets and construction sites, housing complexes and affluent homes, and in cinema.

      The long history of nation-building through film is well known, and the notion of city as metonymy for nation is not new. Yet, the Berlin urban imaginary is a salient case in point....

    • Chapter 6 The Amputated City: The Voids of Hoyerswerda
      (pp. 142-166)

      Neustadt (New City), the burgeoning but sleepy workers’ settlement at the center of Brigitte Reimann’s novelFranziska Linkerhand(1974), is deemed an amputated city by the lover of the title character (Reimann 1998b: 359). He believes the city’s purported function, the realization of a Marxist utopian ideal of urban community, has been sacrificed to the ceaseless demand from the authorities to build as many economical housing units as rapidly as possible. The reader knows by this point in the narration that Linkerhand, an architect helping to plan the city, shares her lover’s frustration. She and her colleagues have failed to...

  8. Part III. Theories

    • Chapter 7 Sounding out Erfurt: Does the Song Remain the Same?
      (pp. 169-194)

      Does a city have a particular sound? Of course most cities sound similar—by day, the hubbub of markets and malls, the quieter buzz of green spaces, and the noise of traffic and police sirens; and by night the musical beats of the clubs, pubs, and street corners. Most cities, however, have a unique sound that sets them apart. All sounds produced by and in a city blend together to form the scales, cadences, and descants of a complex musical composition (Schafer 1973). This chapter will outline at first how sounds mold an urban landscape by forging a space consisting...

    • Chapter 8 Restoration and Redemption: Defending Kultur and Heimat in Eisenach’s Cityscape
      (pp. 195-224)

      One evening in early 1997, following a dinner filled with discussion of battles over historic preservation and renewal in the small East German city of Eisenach, Ronald Dieckmann brought out a large illustrated volume with the titleThe Fates of German Architectural Monuments in World War II: A Documentation of Damage and Total Losses in the Territory of the German Democratic Republic(Eckhardt 1978).¹ The second volume of a series published in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), it covered the administrative districts that were reconstituted after unification as the federal states Saxony and Thuringia. As we paged through scores of...

    • Chapter 9 The Bauwerk in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility: Historical Reconstruction, Pious Modernism, and Dresden’s “süße Krankheit”
      (pp. 225-248)

      A few years ago, a friend emerged from Dresden’s newly rebuilt Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), where she met two well-dressed young women singing Reformation-era hymns. She was interested when they stopped their music and began a speech about the “historical lies” that surrounded them on the Neumarkt (New Market) square. The missionary zeal of these young modernists made an impression on her. Over the past few years, we have been reminded of her experience as we have read in feuilletons, blog entries, and newspaper articles about theBausünden(building sins) of Dresden’s Neumarkt, theSchandfleck(shameful spot) where Berlin’s...

  9. Afterword
    (pp. 249-254)

    It is commonplace that cultural studies, like any scholarly paradigm, does not simply analyze pre-existing phenomena, but constructs them as signifying subjects according to specific theoretical assumptions, mechanisms of selection, and interpretive procedures. Nowhere, perhaps, is this more visible than in the privileged scholarly status enjoyed for many years by Berlin. The city is not only united Germany’s old-new capital, but also the seemingly uncontested site of a diverse (and sometimes disunited) German Studies enterprise, which has especially focused on Berlin’s twentieth-century fate as the center of the Wilhelminian empire, the playground of the artistic and intellectual avant-garde in the...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 255-258)
  11. Index
    (pp. 259-270)