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_New Possibilities for Research and Archives _Contemporary Witnesses in Research on Urban History _Facebook as a Forum for Debates on Urban Design _Researching and Experiencing Urban Authenticity _Citizen Science in Archival Work

Foto:Christian Müller/
Research on Society and Space

Research at the IRS is focused on the spatial aspects and contexts of social action. In doing so, spatial phenomena are explored in terms of both processual and historical dimensions using social-scientific methods.

Foto: Andreas Berheide/

The Research Area examines how spaces are constructed and transformed by interactive, innovative, creative, knowledge-based and entrepreneurial activity. It focuses on the complex interaction of civil society, public and private sector actors.

Foto: Animaflora PicsStock/

The Research Area analyses the political negotiation, planning and transformation of the social and spatial development of cities and regions. It primarily examines the governance of increasingly uncertain, complex and ambiguous constellations.

Foto: Andreas Praefcke /Eigenes Werk/CC BY 3.0/

The Research Area addresses problems of design, planning and appropriation of spaces in recent history. The focus is laid on the history of urbanisation, architecture and urban planning in the GDR, the significance of materiality in the historical transformation of the built environment, and cross-border cooperation in spatial development.


07. December | 2023

IRS economic geographer Marc Schulze received the Peter Meusburger Doctoral Prize "Geography and Knowledge" 2023 for his research on university branches and economic development strategies in Asia. Schulze conducted his research as a doctoral student in the IRS junior research group "Transedu", which investigates the globalisation of higher education. The prize is awarded in honour of the geographer Peter Meusburger, who played a key role in advancing research into the relationship between space and knowledge. more info

24. November | 2023
Sociologist Vivien Sommer Receives Funding from DFG's Emmy Noether Programme

For a long time, Europe thought it was on the road to unification. Noticeable restrictions on mobility at intra-European borders were seen as a relic of the past. More recently, however, disruptive events such as the coronavirus pandemic and large-scale refugee movements have led to borders becoming more of an issue again. They were already present in the memories of people in border regions. From 2024, a new junior research group at the IRS will be investigating the "border memory" of the local population in four European border regions and exploring how it has been shaped over the course of history. more info

01. November | 2023
Project on the Utilisation of "Nomadic Architecture" in the Soviet Union in Preparation

On 1 October 2023 the historian of architecture Ksenia Litvinenko joined the IRS as a Fellow within the Leibniz Research Alliance “Values of the Past”. Under the mentorship of Monika Motylińska, she is in the process of developing a research project titled “Resourcification of Nomadic Indigenous Heritage in the Soviet Projects of Mobile Architecture”. The project will explore how the Soviet Union sought to utilise “Nomadic Architecture” to create mobile settlements for workers in the oil and gas industries in Siberia. more info

04. September | 2023

In the history of the Cold War, the Global South often appears only as a theatre of bloc politics between East and West. In recent research, voices from Africa and Asia have been noted, but little is known about their interconnections. To shed light on these, the collaborative project "Crafting Entanglements: Afro-Asian Pasts of the Global Cold War", starting in July of 2023, looks at student and women's networks, media entanglements through radio stations and film festivals, and the divided city of Berlin as a site of South-South connections. more info

New Publications

15. January | 2024
A Reflection on the Role of Architecture in Postcolonial Africa

What role did architecture play for the societies of countries in sub-Saharan Africa after they became independent? The Canadian Centre for Architecture coordinated a research project on this topic, to which IRS architecture historian Monika Monika Motylińska contributed. The volume "Fugitive Archives" shows the results. more info

04. December | 2023
New Book on "Platform Work"

Digital freelance platforms advertise flexibility, independence and access to a global labour market. But what does it mean to organise and position yourself in this environment? In her dissertation "Global Platform Work", cultural scientist Anna Oechslen sheds light on the everyday life of graphic designers who receive orders from India via digital platforms worldwide. The book was published open access by Campus. more info

15. August | 2023
Paper on the Spread of COVID-19

An article by IRS researchers Andreas Kuebart and Martin Stabler recently published in the journal "Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology" looks at the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic at the level of German counties over time. The study shows: The first four waves of the pandemic were distributed very unevenly within Germany. However, even over long periods of time, the distribution remained surprisingly stable and the affected regions remained the same. more info

more publications

Upcoming Events

IRS Spring Academy
13. May | 2024 - 16. May | 2024

During the past decades, the idea of transdisciplinarity has gained increasing momentum. Transdisciplinary research is regarded as a collaborative form of knowledge generation and knowledge application for solving societal challenges that integrates perspectives and actors from academia, civil society, government and administration as well as from the economic realms. more infos