01. August | 2022 - 05. August | 2022

Summer School 2022: The Socialist City: Planning, Transformation and Aftermath

This summer school will examine the concept of the socialist city in a broader European context. Participants will take a close look at academic debates about socialist cities and their relevance for and place in European urban history. Case studies from cities across the Eastern Block – the Soviet Union, the GDR, Poland and Yugoslavia – illustrate similarities and differences between several states in Eastern Europe. By bringing the counterexamples from France we will look closer what was specific about the socialist cities and what was merely a part of the post-war urbanism.

Particular attention will be paid to urban planning and architecture, housing as well as the legacy of the socialist city (“post-socialist city”). Distinguished scholars from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, and Ukraine will share their expertise and different approaches the topic.

Besides analysing socialist cities in a seminar format, this summer school invites students to participate in guided walks, in order to explore different dimensions of a socialist city (urban planning, heritage preservation and dictatorship) in the living spaces of (former) East Berlin.

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.

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Dr. Christoph Bernhardt | Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space

Christoph Bernhardt is head of the Research Area “Contemporary History and Archive” and deputy director at the IRS. At the same time he is an adjunct Professor for Modern and Contemporary History at the Department of History at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Faculty of Arts and Humanities. After studying History and German Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin he was an assistant professor at the Historical Institute of the Technische Universität Berlin (1994-1998) and earned his PhD in 1995 (published as “Bauplatz Groß Berlin”, 1998). In 2007 he earned his habilitation at the Technische Universität Darmstadt and has there taught Modern and Contemporary History. In 2017 he was awarded the title of an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the Humboldt Universität. He is principal investigator of the DFG Project “Cultural and Technical values of historical buildings” (BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg) and in the Leibniz Research Alliance “Historical Authenticity”. He is also co-editor of the German urban history journal „Informationen zur modernen Stadtgeschichte” (IMS), managing editor of the book series „Beiträge zur Stadtgeschichte und Urbanisierungsforschung” (Franz Steiner Verlag), board member of the “International Committee of the European Association for Urban History” (EAUH), and of the German Urban History Association “Gesellschaft für Stadtgeschichte und Urbanisierungsforschung” (GSU). He has published books and articles in the field of European Urban and Environmental History and directed many basic and third party funded research projects.


(in alphabetical order)

Dr. Rory Archer| Universität Graz
Rory Archer is a social historian of 20th century Southeast Europe whose research focuses on the social history of Yugoslavia (labour history, gender history, socialism, housing, everyday life and popular culture). Since 2010 he has worked at the University of Graz as an assistant, lecturer and now as PI for a project exploring the history of intra-Yugoslav Albanian migration during late-socialism. He was Mellon Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies from 2016-2018 and has worked at the Chair of East European History at Konstanz University (2019-2022). He has published work in journals such as Nationalities PapersHistory and AnthropologySocial History and Labor History.

Dr. Gruia Badescu | Universität Konstanz
Dr. Gruia Badescu is Research Fellow at the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz. He holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Cambridge, with a dissertation on urban reconstruction in after the Second World War and the 1990s Yugoslav wars in Belgrade and Sarajevo. Before Konstanz, he was a lecturer and a research associate at the University of Oxford. His publications discussed post-war rebuilding in Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Beirut, as well as socialist and post-socialist urbanism. His latest publication is the book `Synchronous Pasts: Transforming heritage in the former Yugoslavia´ (2021), coedited with Britt Baillie and Francesco Mazzuchelli.

Dr. Daria Bocharnikova | KU Leuven
is a historian of modern architecture and urban-planning. She received her PhD in 2014 from the European University Institute in Florence and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of urban studies and history of state socialism. In 2012 she started teaching at the Faculty of Liberal Arts at St. Petersburg State University and launched the international collaborative project Second World Urbanity (www.secondworldurbanity.org) together with Steven E. Harris that explored the history of urban planning, and lived experience in socialist cities across Eurasia and beyond. In 2016 she moved to Brussels where she began to work at the Center for Fine Arts BOZAR as institutional advisor and curator of Russian Turn program, while continuing to collaborate with different universities, including KU Leuven and the Free University of Berlin. Her recent publications appeared in the Journal of Architecture, Journal of Urban History and Journal of Modern European History.

Dr. Andreas Butter | IRS
born in Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, is an art historian, specializing in the field of 20th century Modernism. He worked as a freelance expert for several monument authorities, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Berlinische Galerie, IFA Stuttgart, and has been teaching for ten years at the IES Berlin. As an author/curator (Ostmoderne and Neues Leben, Neues Bauen, etc) he promoted regard for post-war era architecture. Since 2010 he has been working as a senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) Erkner on subjects such as urban renewal history and East Germany's international interdependencies. 

Prof. Dr. Kenny R. Cupers | Universität Basel
Kenny Cupers is a scholar and educator who works at the intersection of architectural history, urban studies, and critical geography. Cupers is the author of the award-winning The Social Project: Housing Postwar France (2014), translated into French as La banlieue, un projet social: Ambitions d’une politique urbaine, 1945-1975 (2018). His co-edited volume Architecture and Neoliberalism from the 1960s to the Present (with Helena Mattsson & Catharina Gabrielsson, 2019) explores the multivalent role of architecture and urbanism in processes of neoliberal transformation. His edited volume Use Matters: An Alternative History of Architecture (Routledge, 2013) examines how architecture depended on changing definitions of use throughout the twentieth century.

Dr. Kai Drewes | IRS
Kai Drewes was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He studied Modern History, German Literature, and Media Sciences at TU Braunschweig and at Pécs University, Hungary. Having received his doctorate in 2011, he was granted the Award of the Foundation for Biographical Historical Research for his doctoral thesis about ennoblements of Jews in 19th-century Europe in 2014. He held scholarships from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation and the Leo Baeck Institute London as well as from the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz. A former research assistant at the university archive of TU Braunschweig, he was a trainee in librarianship in Osnabrück and Munich before becoming head of IRS Scientific Collections in 2013. Since 2020 Kai Drewes is spokesperson of the Archives Working Group of the Leibniz Association, since 2019 he is likewise deputy spokesperson of the Federation of Architectural Collections of the German-Speaking Countries.

Dr. Harald Engler| IRS
born in Villingen-Schwenningen (Black Forrest) is a Senior Researcher and deputy head of the Research Area “Contemporary History and Archive” at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in Erkner (near Berlin) since 2007. After having studied History and German Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin he managed research projects for the Historische Kommission zu Berlin as well as the Brandenburg Main State Archive in Potsdam. He has published and edited books, articles and special issues to urban and planning history and has conducted different historical research projects. His research interest lies on the fields of European urban history and the history of planning and architecture of the GDR (with a social and political research perspective, especially biographical research to architects and planners and to the institutional system of the building system of the GDR).

Dr. Daniel Hadwiger | IRS
works as a research assistant in the research project “Urban Authenticity: Creating, contesting, and visualizing the built heritage in European cities since the 1970s” at the IRS Erkner. He works
on the history of the built heritage in Marseille and Berlin in the 20th century, the History of National Socialism and the Regime of Vichy as also on transnational History. He studied history and European literature at the Universities of Mainz, Université de Bourgogne (Dijon), University of Tübingen and at the Université Aix-Marseille. In 2019 he defended his doctoral thesis on the history of welfare in France and Germany during the Second World War at the University of Tübingen. The dissertation “Nationale Solidarität und ihre Grenzen. Die deutsche Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt und der französische Secours national im Zweiten Weltkrieg“  was published in 2021 (Stuttgart, Steiner Verlag). He is associated as historian with the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin and member of the French-German historical committee.

Emine Seda Kayim | University of Michigan
Emine Seda Kayim is an architect and historian by training and a journalist and documentary filmmaker by trade. As a scholar of the built environment, her work examines architectural and spatial practices of surveillance, policing, and incarceration in socialist and post-socialist Europe. She is an advanced PhD Candidate at the University of Michigan, USA, and is currently completing her dissertation, “Stasi as an Architectural Producer: Surveillance and Scientific Management in the East German Built Environment 1954-1989,” in which she uncovers the largely unexplored architectural activities of the GDR’s Ministry of State Security (MfS). Her work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, among others.

Dr. Piotr Kisiel | IRS
is a historian whose research lies at the crossroads of urban history, heritage studies and nationalism studies. After graduating in history in 2011 from the University of Dundee, Scotland and in the same year from the Jagiellonian University, Poland, he pursued his PhD at the European University Institute, Italy where he defended his dissertation in January 2016. After working at the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, he joined the research team of Aleida and Jan Assmann at the University of Konstanz in 2018, where he focused on postindustrial heritage in Germany and Poland. In January 2021 he became the principal investigator of the subproject "Planning" at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space, within the UrbanMetaMapping research consortium.

Prof. Dr. Barbara Klich-Kluczewska | Jagiellonian University Kraków
Dr. hab. Barbara Klich-Kluczewska, prof. UJ
 is a cultural historian of contemporary Poland.  Her fields of research include history of family, history of sexuality and gender history, biopolitics and history of experts’ knowledge.  She is the author of the books“Family, taboo and communism in Poland, 1956-1989” (Berlin – Warsaw 2021) and co-author of the book “Kobiety w Polsce, 1945-1989. Nowoczesność. Równouprawnienie. Komunizm” [Women in Poland, 1945-1989] (Kraków, 2020). She was a research fellow at the Imre Kertesz Kolleg Jena and ZZF Potsdam, a visiting fellow in The Czech Academy of Sciences Prague and a visiting professor in Rochester University and Universität Martin Luther in Halle.

Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko | Center for Urban History of East Central Europe (Lviv, Ukraine)
Natalia Otrishchenko, PhD, sociologist, researcher at the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe (Lviv, Ukraine) leads the Urban Media Archive's "Urban Stories" project and conducts a research "Urban Experts and Changing Cities: Reshaping Professional Field (1970s-2010s)" in collaboration with the Leibniz Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam. Natalia was a tutor and later coordinator of the Urban Summer Schools "Visions and Experiences" (2015-17).On behalf of her institution she was involved in the organization of Urban Summer school "Open Form" (Lublin-Szumin-Warsaw, 2018).

Gundula Pohl | Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation
Gundula Pohl (M.A.) studied History, European Ethnology and Eastern European Cultural Studies in Berlin, Potsdam, Lublin and St. Petersburg. She has been an academic trainee in the research department at the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial since January 2021. Her current research projects deal with the biography of the German communist Anna Schlotterbeck and the MfS restricted area "Dienstkomplex Freienwalder Straße".

Małgorzata Popiołek-Roßkamp | IRS
Małgorzata Popiołek-Roßkamp works in the lead project “Social Spatial Transformations in Berlin-Brandenburg 1980-2000” in the Research Area “Contemporary History and Archive”. She studied art history at the Warsaw University and at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg (2005–2010) and heritage conservation at the Technische Universität Berlin (2010–2012). In December 2017 she defended her PhD thesis entitled “Warsaw. A Reconstruction that Began Before the War” as a joint agreement between the Technische Universität Berlin and University of Wrocław. Her PhD was published 2021 at the Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh. 2018–2020 she worked at the Centre for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin on a project on architecture of Generalgouvernement during the World War II.

Dr. Elke Stadelmann-Wenz | Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation
Elke Stadelmann-Wenz has headed the research department of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial since June 2020. From 2013 to 2020, she worked as a research assistant in the research department of the Federal Commissioner for Stasi Records (BStU), where she dealt with the intelligence confrontation between the Ministry for State Security of the GDR (MfS) and the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Previously, she studied history, politics and sinology at the University of Konstanz and at the Free University of Berlin. She completed her PhD at the Free University of Berlin on the topic of Governance Practices and Resistant Behaviour in the 1960s in the GDR.


This call for applications addresses M.A. students and PhD students in their initial stage from the fields of History, Memory Studies, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Geography, Architecture and Urban Planning, Cultural Studies, broader Humanities and Social Sciences.

Applications must include 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.

Optionally, please send abstract (max. 300 words) of a proposed presentation.

We can only accept applications in electronic form. Please send your application via email to summerschool2022(at)leibniz-irs.de.

This call for applications closes on 1 April 2022.

Selected candidates will be informed at the mid of April.


Fees: 75 euros, which covers accommodation (in a hotel in Berlin close to the Berlin-Ostbahnhof train station), and board (welcome dinner, breakfasts at the hotel and lunches at the IRS). Cost of travel and lunch on 4.08 is not covered.

There is a limited number of bursaries available to candidates: three students will be invited to participate free of charge and additionally, one student will receive a refund for the travel expenses (up to 250€). Please mention in the motivation letter why you would need such a support.


01.08.2022 Start of the Summer School

14:00 - 15:00 Registration

15:00 - 15:15 Welcome by Director of the IRS Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert

15:30 - 17:00 Introductory Lecture: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bernhardt | IRS

18:30 - 20:00 Welcome Dinner


02.08.2022. Urban Planning & Architecture

09:00 - 09:45 USRR: Dr. Daria Bocharnikova | KU Leuven

10:00 - 10:45 Poland: Dr. Piotr Kisiel | IRS

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00 Yugoslavia & Romania: Dr. Gruia Badescu | Universität Konstanz

12:15 - 13:00 France: Dr. Daniel Hadwiger | IRS

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch

14:30 - 15:30 Discussion: Socialist City in European Urban History

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30 Student’s Presentation (3x 20 min + 30 min discussion)


3.08.2022 Housing

09:00 - 09:45 USRR: Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko | Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

10:00 - 10:45 Poland: Prof. Dr. Barbara Klich-Kluczewska | Jagiellonian University Kraków

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00 Yugoslavia: Dr. Rory Archer | Universität Graz

12:15 - 13:00 France: Prof. Dr. Kenny R. Cupers | Universität Basel

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch

14:00 - 14:45 Discussion: Housing in Post-War Europe

15:00 - 15:30 Visit to the IRS Archives with Dr. Kai Drewes | IRS

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30 Student’s Presentation (3x 20 min + 30 min discussion)


4.08.2022DDR: East-Berlin

Group 1: Stalinallee: Andreas Butter | IRS

Group 2: Berlin-Hohenschönhausen: Dr. Elke Stadelmann-Wenz | Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, Gundula Pohl | Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen & Emine Seda Kayim University of Michigan

Group 3: Nikolaiviertel & Gendarmenmarkt: Dr. Daniel Hadwiger | IRS & Dr. Małgorzata Popiołek-Roßkamp | IRS

15:00-16:00 Discussion: East-Berlin as a Socialist City | at the Bezirkszentralbibliothek Pablo Neruda


5.08.2022 Post-Socialist city

09:00 - 09:45 Ukraine: Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko | Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

10:15 - 11:00 Germany: Dr. Harald Engler| IRS

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 - 13:00 Discussion: Who needs “the Post-Socialist City”?

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch and End of the Summer School

Student's Presentation

(in alphabetical order)

Erika Brandl University of Bergen (NO)
A battle of bricks and stones: house architecture for the revolution
House architecture is equally a tool of emancipation and a proactive agent of exploitation: the creation of built infrastructure like housing reveals the manners in which architects participate in differentiating, labelling, and categorizing institutions, people, codes, norms; the manners in which we as a society include and exclude. In this article, I re-examine Friedrich Engels’ The Housing Question and question the material implications of Engel’s radical account of house infrastructure, an account informed by his imagination of workers, or so-called free outlaws. I contrast his take on the most (politically) desirable way to be in habitat with that of Proudhonists, focusing on the actual built forms of both visions – this includes large tenant blocks, cottages and pavilion housing. The article thus unfolds as a comparative historical study of the architecture (and physical architectural features and qualities) that best enables social and private life. I describe and defend contemporary forms of housing occupation, appropriation, and expropriation. Throughout the piece, I refer to Engels’ and Proudhon’s take on home ownership, and revise political conceptions regarding housing and material life. This comparative presentation considers the possible political lives of different housing infrastructure; it considers the possible infrastructural lives of socialist politics.

Helka Dzascsovzski TU München (DE)
Invisible Socialism for Historical Visibility: Institutionalised monument protection in service of the historic urban fabric of the Buda Castle District 
The concept of socialist city is widely used in architectural historiography. Images of planned industrial new towns, microrayons and collective facilities as social condensers, including workers’ clubs and cultural houses, are some of its most frequently referenced manifestations. On the other hand, the term “socialist” is also frequently applied in popular media to stigmatise urban ensembles from the second half of the 20th century for their political connotations, perceived inferior quality and unsympathetic contrast to historic buildings without a deep understanding about the characteristics that make these objects “socialist”. The Buda Castle District, the most important historic urban site of Hungary, was substantially damaged in the Second World War. The planning and reconstruction work of the urban area began in the late-1940s. Given its symbolic and historic prominence, the castle district was intended to serve as a model for urban reconstruction activities across the country. Under the state-socialist regime, the building industry was nationalised by the end of the 1940s amidst the widespread economic centralisation. Yet, instead of hindering the conservation activities of the castle district, the new centralised organisation of the architecture and monument protection professions and the state ownership of the buildings provided a framework that enabled the consistent implementation of a scientific approach to monument protection. Architects and professionals working on the project sought to thoroughly survey and document the buildings and use this knowledge for the rebuilding designs to authentically showcase their historical richness. This presentation elucidates the specific mark that the socialist operational organisation and the implemented scientific approach to rebuilding left on the Buda Castle District and argues that these aspects can be conceptualised as an invisible socialist layer, an invisible socialist city, superimposed over the historic urban fabric.

David HuntingtonAdam Mickiewicz University (PL)
Decline-induced Residential Segregation in ‘Post-Socialist’ Shrinking Cities
Although research on urban shrinkage has boomed since the turn of the millennium, we are only beginning to grasp its potential socio-spatial consequences and the role of local contextual factors in shaping neighbourhood change and spatial (in)equalities within so-called ‘shrinking cities’ over time. In this vein, a nascent body of research indicates that shrinkage may act as a catalyst of residential segregation and spatial concentrations of poverty . Verifications of these effects are however scarce and primarily limited to observations from a handful of larger western European cities. In addition to a lack of studies set in the context of small to medium-sized cities, little consideration has been paid to how these dynamics play out in the post-socialist realm. These knowledge gaps are significant since, firstly, smaller cities face a relatively high risk of becoming trapped in a vicious cycle of shrinkage, urban decline, and worsening socio-economic inequalities, and secondly, the socio-demographic make-up and spatial fabric of post-socialist cities generally differs from that of their western counterparts. Drawing on secondary data, policy analysis, interviews and non-participant observations, this research sheds light on these issues by comparing the role of urban shrinkage in socio-economic residential segregation in the medium-sized post-socialist cities of Gera and Schwerin. It will be shown in both cases that conditions of shrinkage fuelled widening spatial divisions among differing socio-economic groups, albeit to varying degrees. Beyond confirming that medium-sized cities of the post-socialist realm are vulnerable to the socio-spatial consequences of shrinkage, this research adds new evidence that a historically-informed and context-sensitive understanding of local socio-spatial dynamics is key to the sustainable planning and socially-equitable development of (shrinking) cities.

Ivana Zimbrek Central European University (AT)
Lidija Podbregar-Vasle and Commercial Urbanism in Socialist Yugoslavia, 1950s-1960s
I begin my PhD dissertation on the history of Yugoslav department stores by focusing on the role that Yugoslav women played in the development of retail and retail spaces from the mid-1950s. I argue that Yugoslav women—as individual actors, but also collectively within organizations or expert platforms—served as both experts and activists in the first phase of the modernization of retail and retail spaces in Socialist Yugoslavia. With different focuses and within different frameworks of exchange and activity—on republican, federal, and transnational levels—Yugoslav women initiated and participated in various genres of knowledge production, such as exhibitions, conferences, publications, and seminars, and were actively involved in establishing both the fields of expertise and their objects of study.
Very active in this regard was the Slovenian architect Lidija Podbregar-Vasle, who from the 1960s researched the issue of retail and supply in Yugoslav urban centers. In 1962 she undertook a trip to explore retail spaces in West Germany and Northern Europe, and upon her return published a report that represents one of the early forms of transnational knowledge production in the sphere of architecture and urban planning on designing and constructing modern retail spaces in Socialist Yugoslavia. In my presentation I will investigate the intellectual and architectural work of Lidija Podbregar-Vasle by focusing on both her publications as well as planned and realized projects of modern retail spaces from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. I am interested in analyzing how Podbregar-Vasle contributed to the intellectual and material expansion of modern retail spaces as well as the development of the discipline of “commercial urbanism” (komercijalni urbanizam) in the early phase of the modernization of Yugoslav retail and urban space following the Second World War. In this way I also want to shed light on the unexplored history of Yugoslav women architects and experts as well as the role of Yugoslav women in social and urban modernization processes under state-socialism in the early Cold War period.


Hygiene Concept

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we only accept participants who are fully vaccinated or recovered from a COVID-19 infection or have daily test (3G Rule). Proof will be requested during the registration process.

Depending on the decision of the authorities and the development of the pandemic situation these rules might change.

For more information on the COVID-19 situation in Germany please  click here


Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space
Flakenstraße 29-31
15537 Erkner

Bezirkszentralbibliothek Pablo Neruda,
Frankfurter Allee 14 A
10247 Berlin

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), with the financial support from the Federal Minister of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) and the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Eastern Germany.