24. Juli | 2023 - 27. Juli | 2023

Summer School 2023

Residues of the Past: (De)constructing urban histories

The focus of the summer school is to examine how historical strata have been understood, constructed, and interpreted in different European cities from the post-war period to the present day. On the one hand, the participants learn how historic buildings were integrated into the post-war reconstruction plans on both sides of the "Iron Curtain". On the other hand, they will be encouraged to think how historical authenticity has been established in the preservation of monuments and what might have been overlooked in the process. Finally, participants will discuss how people (individually and in groups) remember and what this means for our understanding of the past. The students should also investigate how digital methods can help to understand today's memory landscapes.

The summer school’s goal is to support young scholars and help them establish their own academic networks. There will be an opportunity for some students to present their own projects and receive feedback.

We look forward to seeing you in July!

Keynote Speaker

Christian Lotz studied History and Social Sciences in Leipzig, Edinburgh, Wien und Poznan. M.A. Leipzig University (2003), Dr. phil. Stuttgart University (2007), Habil. Giessen University (2014). He teaches at Giessen University and is head of the map collection of the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe in Marburg. He received scholarships at the Institute for European History in Mainz, at the German Historical Institutes in Warsaw and London. In his research, he focusses on modern history of Central, Eastern and Northern Europe, environmental history, critical cartography and the history of international organisations. https://www.herder-institut.de/profile/christian-lotz/


(in alphabetical order)

Seraphim Alvanides  (Northumbria University) is a social geographer, with expertise in quantitative methods and Geographical Information Systems and Science. His research and teaching interests involve the analysis of large spatial data related to urban sprawl, land use change, health inequalities and active transport (walking and cycling). The substantive question driving his research is to what extent the environment (broadly defined) influences individual behaviours and outcomes and he is an advocate of open data and open source software for scientific research and dissemination.

Aurélie Audeval holds a junior professorship in contemporary history at the University of Lille, at the Institut de Recherches Historiques du Septentrion (IRHIS). Her research focuses on the history of immigration policies and the Holocaust, with a special focus on categorization phenomena and its spatialization.  She holds a chair on "indésirabilities" and is currently working on the genealogy of the administrative category of the "undesirable alien". She co-founded the interdisciplinary network “Remembering Spaces of Internment” (ReSI) (www.resiresearch.org). She recently completed a post-doctorate with the RUINES project (https://anrruines.wixsite.com/portail) on the social and political uses of war ruins.

Gruia Bădescu is a Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz. He holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, and, before Konstanz, he was a lecturer and research associate at the University of Oxford. His research examines urban and architectural interventions in the aftermath of political ruptures, focusing on post-war urban reconstruction and memorialisation after political violence. His publications examine contested heritage and memory processes in Southeastern Europe, also in dialogue with other regions, including the Middle East and the Southern Cone of Latin America. He co-edited the book Synchronous Pasts: Transforming heritage in the former Yugoslavia (2021). He is a convenor of the Memory, Space and Place working group of the Memory Studies Association and is an active member of the European action group on dissonant heritage.

Sarah Brumm (Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation) holds a M.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies on Antisemitismus from the ZfA-Technical University Berlin. Her theoretical focus and research interests lie in 20th century history, its commemorative culture, as well as structures and dynamics of transgenerationality. Joining the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial in 2020, she is currently part of the Memorials‘ sub-project „Projekt Keibelstraße“. She, inter alia, conducts biographical interviews with contemporary eyewitnesses , in order to shed light on political imprisonment. Following oral history methods and techniques the Memorial started collecting and preserving primary source material since the mid-1990s.

Laura Demeter (Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies, Otto-Friedrich University, Bamberg) holds a PhD in cultural heritage management and development, acquired at the IMT School for Advanced Studies in Lucca, Italy (2017). Her research focuses on heritage-making processes in the context of war, conflict and regime changes; discourses of value creation, war damage mapping, and heritage protection actors.

Carmen M. Enss (Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies, Otto-Friedrich University, Bamberg) is a senior researcher of heritage conservation. She specializes in postwar reconstruction and is head of the UrbanMetaMapping consortium. Together with Birgit Knauer, she edited an atlas on war damage maps for German cities (Atlas Kriegsschadenskarten Deutschland Stadtkartierung und Heritage Making im Wiederaufbau um 1945, Birkhäuser 2023)


Amir Ghavimi is a geoinformation postdoctoral research associate. He specializes in geoinformatics, urban design, and planning. He has experience lecturing at universities and organizations as well as being a GIS and urban planning superior expert at the municipality. His main areas of interest in both research and teaching are GIS/Geospatial analysis, mobility and Network analysis, urban space (public spaces, green spaces, etc.), and urban sociology.  He also has some background in urban historical research. His current research focuses on the application of geospatial analysis, including dealing with spatio-temporal data management, for resilience and sustainability solutions in urban and rural areas in Germany.

Piotr Kisiel (Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space IRS) is a postdoc researcher working on a project on post-war urban reconstruction in East Germany and Poland. He is the author of Politics of Space in Prussian and Austrian-Hungarian Cities (Marburg: Herder Institute, 2018), a book about urban modernization on the imperial peripheries during the nineteenth century and the competing visions of the “European city”. He was educated at the universities in Cracow and Dundee and did his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence. He published several peer-reviewed articles on nationalism and (industrial) heritage. He taught at universities in Germany, France, and Turkey.

Birgit Knauer (TU Wien) studied art history and romance studies at the University of Vienna. Following her PhD, she worked as a research assistant at the Chair of Heritage Conservation at the University of Bamberg, Germany. Since 2020, she has been researching and teaching at the Department of Heritage Conservation at the Vienna University of Technology (interim head October 2021–January 2023), focusing especially on the architecture of post‐war modernism and the discourse and practice of urban planning and monument preservation in the 20th century.

Aleksandra Szczepan (Jagiellonian University)is a co-founder and member of the Research Centre for Memory Cultures at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków and a collaborator of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in oral history projects in Poland and Spain. She authored the book “Realista Robbe-Grillet” (2015) on 20th century redefinitions of realism. She has been recipient of scholarships from the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, European Holocaust Research Infrastructure and the Polish National Science Centre. Her research interests include Holocaust memory in Polish culture, decoloniality in the perspective of Eastern-Central Europe, oral history and space-based testimonial practices of witnesses to the Shoah.

Katarzyna Zawadzka completed her PhD in Psychology at the University of Southampton and worked as an assistant professor at various UK universities before moving to Poland in 2019. She currently holds a university professorship at the SWPS University, and is a co-founder and co-PI of the Learning and Metacognition Experimental Laboratory. Her research focuses on human memory and metamemory, i.e., people’s appraisal and regulation of their memory processes. She is particularly interested in the role of external factors that shape memory and metamemory – such as information from the physical environment or coming from other people – both at the time of learning and of retrieving previously remembered information.


  • Deadline for application: 16.04.2023.
  • M.A. students and PhD students in their initial stage.
  • Disciplinary backgrounds: History, Memory Studies, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Geography, Architecture and Urban Planning, Cultural Studies, broader Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • The applicants should provide a one-page CV and a letter of motivation (max. 500 words), that includes information on the applicant’s scholarly background, interests, and career goals.
  •  Please indicate if you have strong preference for Thurs. 27.07.2023 (Seeing the past from the present): memory studies or digital humanities. 
  • Optionally, please send abstract (max. 300 words) of a proposed presentation.
  •  The Summer School is unable to provide computers, therefore students wanting to participate in the Group 2 (“Digital insights into memory landscapes”) need to bring their own laptops with the QGIS software (open access) installed. 
  • Application should be submitted as one PDF file until 16.04.2023 to the e-mail-address: Summerschool2023(at)leibniz-irs.de


  • Fees: 75,00€ which covers accommodation (in Berlin), and board (breakfasts and lunches at the IRS). Cost of travel and dinners is not covered.
  • There is a limited number of bursaries available to candidates: a limited number of students will be invited to participate free of charge with a refund for the travel expenses (max. 250,00€). Please mention in the motivation letter why you would need such a support.

Preliminary Program

Mon. 24.07.2023 Summer School Opening

14:30 – 15:00 Registration

15:00 – 15:30 Opening of the summer school

15:30 – 17:00 Keynote lecture: Christian Lotz (Herder Institute): Timelayers/Zeitschichten in the City. Bridges between the History of  Concepts and Critical Cartography


Di. 25.07.2023 | Burden of the past? History and historical structures in the post-war Europe

09:30 – 11:00 Carmen Enss (Uni Bamberg): German Federal Republic

11:15 – 12:45 Birgit Knauer (TU Wien): Austria

14:15 – 15:45 Laura Demeter (Uni Bamberg): Romania

16:00 – 17:30 Piotr Kisiel (IRS): Poland


Wed. 26.07.2023 | Historic values and their deconstruction 

09:30 – 11:00 Student presentations 

11:15 – 12:45 Gruia Bădescu (Uni Konstanz): Difficult heritage 

14:15 – 15:45 Aurélie Audeval (University of Lille): The building as a trace of the crime. The example of the ruins in the "martyred villages" of the Second World War. Oradour-sur-Glane, Vercors, Marzabotto, Lidice, Distomo

16:00 – 17:30 Aleksandra Szczepan (Jagiellonian University): Do maps tell the truth?


Do. 27.07.2023 | Seeing the past from the present

09:45 – 16:00 Workshops

Group 1: Human memory and its limitations

Dr. Katarzyna Zawadzka (SWPS University) & Sarah Brumm (Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation)

Group 2: Digital insights into memory landscapes

Seraphim Alvanides (Northumbria University) & Amir Ghavimi (GESIS Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences)

16:00 – 17:00 Final discussion and summery of the summer school

Student's Presentation

(in alphabetical order)

Micaela Mancini | Gran Sasso Science Institute 
Passionate & curious about cities & communities

As I have not yet defined the detailed scope of my PhD research project, I would like to propose a presentation inspired by the book A Place More Void (2021), edited by Paul Kingsbury and Anna Secor. In particular, I intend to discuss the chapter Urban Renewal and the Actuality of Absence: The “Hole” (Trou) of Paris, 1973 by Ulf Strohmayer. 
This book made me realise how voids are an essential and often undermined aspect of geography: exploring them and their social meaning can help us to better understand the ways in which spaces are created, imagined, and inhabited. The book draws on a wide range of examples and case studies, including the Arctic, deserts, and the open ocean, as well as more abstract forms of voids such as zones of indistinction between different cultural, political, and ecological systems.
In the above-mentioned chapter, the author explores the case of the trou of Paris, a large empty space in the centre of the city created by the demolition of several buildings in the 1970s. It has been long seen as a symbol of urban decay and blight by the city government and many urban planners, who sought to use it as an opportunity for urban renewal and modernization - currently, Les Halles. However, the hole has also been a contested space that had important cultural and social significance for local residents, as a place of memory and resistance against the dominant power structures of the city.
This aligns with my interest in how spaces are constructed and experienced in different ways by different groups of people. Understanding these diverse perspectives is essential for engaging in critical reflection on the ways in which spaces are created and contested, and for promoting more just and equitable relationships between people and the environment.


Sunjay Mathuria | Concordia University
Urban Memorialization in Contested Cities and the Narratives of Difficult Heritage

The purpose of this paper is to explore the theme of ‘global memories’ by sharing preliminary findings from my dissertation project, which focuses on the narrativization of memories of the Troubles in Belfast and Partition in Lahore. I begin by examining three types of place-based narratives through walking: urban planning, heritage and literary. I then consider the ways in which narratives of memory demonstrate a tension across local, national, and global scales and explore processes of selective remembering/forgetting that may collude with neoliberal practices of urban development and support nationalization projects. By coupling planning and heritage narratives with literary stories, I wonder: how might literary or artistic interventions offer more nuanced, striated understandings of urban memory? By focusing on Belfast’s City Centre and Lahore’s Walled City, I think about storytelling as a mode of memorialization that engages with the “difficult heritage” (Macdonald 2009) of the Troubles and Partition. I will then discuss the theoretical frameworks of my comparative analysis from a spatial and urban perspective, including multidirectional memory (Rothberg 2009), postmemory (Hirsch 1992) and melancholy survivals (Llyod 2000). This is followed by a discussion of my methodological approach of walking interviews and how this practice aids a more embodied understanding of how planners, heritage practitioners and writers move through their urban spaces as they narrativize memories of conflict and the ways this impacts their work. How might storytelling and walking open up more inclusive and just ways of remembering? 



Julian Schellong | TU Darmstadt
Temporal Tectonics. Earthquake Reconstructions and Professionalization of Heritage Conservation, c. 1960-1990

My presentation investigates reconstructions of cultural heritage after earthquake disasters. Earthquakes demonstrate the relentless force inherent in the natural environment. They destroy not only dwellings and infrastructure but the material heritage and built representation of a community’s past. Reconstructions after earthquakes pose great questions: What values–material and ideal–should be take along from before the disaster to a new future after? Decisions on what to reconstruct and how reshaped the identity of affected communities.
The presentation claims that earthquakes had significant influence on the development of the profession of heritage conservation in the 1970s and 80s. After drafting the Venice Charter and establishing ICOMOS as the official association in the 1960s, the earthquakes in Friuli (NE Italy) 1976 and Montenegro 1979 were formative challenges for the field. Conservators from all over the world rushed to the disaster sites, effectively contributed to the process of rebuilding, and discussed reconstruction efforts in their community. The fields of debris served as training grounds for professionalization and internationalization.
The presentation contributes to the history of the idea and practice of heritage conservation in the second half of the twentieth century. It draws from historical material at the ICOMOS Documentation Center, the Archivio Piero Gazzola, and Friulian communal archives. By combining environmental history and cultural history, it reflects on how heritage conservation and disaster reconstruction intertwined the temporal layers of the past, the present, and the future.



Funding Information

The summer school is organized by the Research Area Contemporary History and Archive of the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in cooperation with the Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies (KDWT) of the Bamberg University, with the financial support from the Federal Minister of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) and the Leibniz Research Alliance „Value of the Past“.


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