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

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.

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. Natalia Otrishchenko | Center for Urban History of East Central Europe

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 - 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: 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: Dr. Elke Stadelmann-Wenz | Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen & Gundula Pohl | Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Group 3: Nikolaiviertel & Gendarmenmarkt: Dr. Daniel Hadwiger | IRS & Dr. Piotr Kisiel | 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

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.