Lecture: How to circumvent a complex history: International enterprises as heritage-makers at New Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

Melbourne / 14 Mar 2024

Thursday 14 Mar 2024 / 1:15pm – 2:45pm

Japanese Room, Level 4 Glyn Davis Building (133), Masson Road, University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010

Lecture: How to circumvent a complex history: International enterprises as heritage-makers at New Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

New Potsdamer Platz has been the flagship urban development project of post-Wall Berlin. Throughout the 1990s, it was transformed from a derelict no-man’s-land at the Berlin Wall into Europe’s largest construction site and, finally, into the much-vaunted new centre of the future capital of reunified Germany. While the piecemeal sale of Potsdamer Platz to international enterprises such as Daimler and Sony provoked much controversy in the 1990s, the fact that several monuments and other relics from the history of Potsdamer Platz had been part of these sales has hardly caught attention.

This talk will introduce the public and private players involved in the politics of heritage-making and urban development at New Potsdamer Platz. It will trace how the enterprises deliberately combined discourses and material objects to transform selected aspects of the urban square’s past into heritage while obliterating others. This was achieved through the partial destruction of protected monuments, the integration of new historicizing symbols in the urban space, and selective heritage interpretation that was first resisted but later sustained by the municipal government. I will argue that the complex and in parts difficult heritage of the place was redeveloped into a landscape of corporate power that commemorates but the present.

Sybille Frank is Professor for Urban Sociology and Sociology of Space at the Institute of Sociology, Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany). Her research focuses on conflicts over space, places, heritage, tourism, and on urban violence. Recent publications include the co-edited books ‘Unsettled Urban Space. Routines, Temporalities and Contestations’ (Routledge 2023); ‘The Power of New Urban Tourism. Spaces, Representations and Contestations’ (Routledge 2022); ‘Urban Heritage in Divided Cities: Contested Pasts’ (Routledge 2020), a co-edited special feature on ‘Urban Fallism. Monuments, Iconoclasm and Activism’ (journal ‘City. Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action’, Routledge, 2020), and the monograph ‘Wall Memorials and Heritage: The Heritage Industry of Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie’ (Routledge 2016).

More Information: Theo Blankley / theo.blankley@unimelb.edu.au

Source: https://acahuch.msd.unimelb.edu.au/news-events/2024/lecture-sybille-frank-on-how-to-circumvent-a-complex-history-international-enterprises-as-heritage-makers-at-new-potsdamer-platz,-berlin