WiSe 18/19: Berlin Now: Image, Fame and Problems of a Post-Industrial City.
Subject: Having been the capital of Prussia, of Imperial, Weimar, Nazi and Socialist Germany, the very symbol of the Cold War, the most American of all German cities and the hub of industrial ... read more
Subject: Having been the capital of Prussia, of Imperial, Weimar, Nazi and Socialist Germany, the very symbol of the Cold War, the most American of all German cities and the hub of industrial Germany, Berlin is now one of the many “post-industrial cities” in the Western world, competing for financial investment, tourists and the international “creative class”. In this competition, the “branding” of places becomes essential. Therefore, cities need specific images. In the case of Berlin, this image is based on the city’s history, its unique status that it acquired as a divided city, but also on the liberal lifestyle for which it has become famous. However, images sometimes clash with reality in the shape of political, financial or economic problems: In Berlin, more than 500.000 people depend upon social security benefits, affordable housing is increasingly scarce, and infrastructure projects such as the ever-uncompleted new airport are a burden on the city. On top of all this, Berlin has to deal with considerable challenges in the sectors of education, traffic and public transportation, public safety and administration, and, last, but not least, is struggling with a debt of more than 59 billion Euros. And: the very historical sites, memorials and neighbourhoods which feature in the “branding” of Berlin undergo changes as they are turning into tourist attractions, which sometimes causes friction between “old” and “new” Berliners.
Program: We will analyse some of the reasons for and possible effects of Berlin's popularity, but we will also look at some of the most relevant social and political challenges and examine how the city copes with them. We will discuss the concepts of city branding, gentrification and tourist marketing. In addition to studying academic and journalistic texts, students will venture out and do research in the streets of Berlin.
Is this course suitable for you? This course is for students who want to see more than just the surface of the city. Although it is open to students from all fields, you should be able and willing to study academic texts from the social sciences (urban geography, marketing, tourism).
Workload and Assessment: In order to obtain 5 ECTS credits, students will have to attend the course regularly (at least 12 out of 15 sessions) and participate in the discussions in class; study the weekly course materials (an average of 15-20 pages of English texts per week); contribute to a working group (field research) with a presentation in class and pass the written examination (90 minutes).