Transformations of the Urban. Global Perspectives on the History of Industrial Cities

German Historical Institute
Prof. Nikolaus Katzer, German Historical Institute, Moscow; Prof. Martina Heßler, Dr. Jörn Eiben, Neuere Sozial-, Wirtschafts- und Technikgeschichte, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg; Prof. Clemens Zimmermann, Kultur- und Mediengeschichte, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken
18.04.2018 - 20.04.2018
Prof. Clemens Zimmermann, Kultur- und Mediengeschichte, Universität des Saarlandes, Saarbrücken

The historiography of industrial cities is predominantly concerned with processes of decline and de-industrialization as well as with reorientations and attempts at conversion. At a first glance such a narrative seems obvious, since industrial cities are traditionally understood as places of coal and steal, iron, oil, and mass production. This dominant perspective seems to be problematic in three respects: these approaches give preference to the spectacular. Furthermore this entails an empirical imbalance, as the numerous examples of persisting industrial influence get out of sight. Finally the story of rise, decline, and comeback follows a decidedly Western perspective, which blanks out numerous examples beyond this narrow focus. To counteract these problems, the conference will, firstly, consider examples and experiences of Russia and other countries to build up a global research agenda. Secondly, the concept of ‘transformation’ has to be reflected on. What exactly does transformation mean? Which concepts of transformation can be applied to urban history? How important was "the old" in the process of transformation? How do actors deal with the contingencies and discontinuities of these processes of transformation. Thirdly, we will investigate entanglements and transnational processes of exchange as well as hint at comparative aspects. Important and innovative topical fields in the conference will be the history of self-perceptions and their medialization, specific actor-constellations of urban crisis, cultural policies and urban change, urban development and urban planning as well as the spatial constellations of industrial cities. The conference language will be English.


Wednesday, 18.4.2018, 18:00

18:00-18:10 Nikolaus Katzer (DHI Moskau), Welcome

18:10-18:30 Martina Heßler (Hamburg); Clemens Zimmermann (Saarbrücken), Introduction

Chair: Nikolaus Katzer

18:30-19:30 Keynote: Lewis Siegelbaum, Transformations of the Urban: Second World Industrial Cities


Thursday, 19.4.2018 , Start: 9:00

9:00-11:15 Session 1: Space

Chair: Jörn Eiben

9:00-9:30 Alexandru Muraru, The Late Communism and the Social Transformation of Industrial Cities. The Romanian Case of “Ceausima”: Social Crisis, Urban Personalization and Homogenization

9:30-10:00 Shuxi Yin, Appropriating Space during Shanghai`s Transformation

10:00-10:30 Christoph Bernhardt, Pathways of Industrial Cities along the Rhine: Decline, Transformation and Entanglements (1930-2000)

10:30-11:15 Discussion

11:15 -11:45 Coffee break

11:45-13:15 Session 2: (Self-)Representation

Chair: Martina Heßler

11:45-12:15 Annika Wienert, Ruin porn, Critique or Affirmation? Photography as a Means for the Narration of (Post-)Industry

12:15-12:45 Helen Wagner, From the „driving force of Germany“ to the „City of Cities“. Self-descriptions of a changing industrial area

12:45-13:15 Discussion

13:15-14:15 Lunch

14:15-16: 30 Session 3: Crisis and Transformation

Chair: Katharina Wohlgemuth

14:15- 14.45 Ronny Regev, Same City, Different Industry: Hollywood at the Studio Era

14.45-15:15 Jörn Eiben, Cause and Effect? Crisis and Transformation in Wolfsburg and Wilhelmshaven (1970s-1980s)

15:15-15:45 Melinda Harlov-Csortan, Culturalizing the De-Industrial Urban Premises in Budapest, Hungary

15:45-16:30 Discussion

Afterwards: Free time available

19:00 Conference Dinner

Friday, 20.4.2018, Start 8:30

8:30-10:45 Session 4: Transformations around the 1990s

Chair: Christoph Bernhardt

8:30-9:00 Katharina Wohlgemuth, Industrial Cities in the East and West between Crisis and Reorientation. Cultural-Policy Strategies of the Shrinking Cities of Dessau and Salzgitter
9:00-9:30 Pavel Pokidko/Elena Kochetkova, From Capitalism to Socialism and back: Industrial cities of the Karelian Isthmus, 1940 – 2010
9:30-10:00 Clemens Zimmermann, Patterns of Crisis, Shrinkage, Regeneration and Immigration in Industrial Cities. A Comparison of East and West Germany

10:00-10:45 Discussion

10:45-11:15 Coffee break

11:15-13:30 Session 5: Reconceptions of Industrial Cities

Chair: Clemens Zimmermann

11:15-11:45 Saskia Geisler, A transnational encounter in an anachronistic town: The example of Kostomukša

11:45-12:15 Ekaterina Kalemeneva, From the “conquest of the land of snow“ to the “happy cities of youth“: transformation of the urban models in the Soviet Far North in the years of the “Thaw”

12:15-12:45 Nishpriha Thakur, The Cities Produced Through Belongingness. A Case Study of the Textile Industry of Surat

12:45-13.30 Discussion

13:30-14.30 Lunch Break

14:30-15:00 Final Discussion

15:00 Excursion


Clemens Zimmermann

Universität des Saarlandes, Prof. Dr. Clemens Zimmermann
Campus B3.1, 66123 Saarbrücken

Transformations of the Urban. Global Perspectives on the History of Industrial Cities, 18.04.2018 – 20.04.2018 Moscow, in: H-Soz-Kult, 05.01.2018, <>.
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