Leibniz Research Alliance
Historical Authenticity

© MfN/Hwa Ja Goetz

Research Projects

Public spaces as places of (re)negotiating historicity and belonging

Dr. Kristin Meißner | Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Postdam

The interdisciplinary HERA project en/counter/points: (re)negotiating belonging through culture and contact in public space and place analyses public spaces and buildings as places of (re)negotiating social belonging by drawing on examples from Poland, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, France, Italy, Spain, Great Britain and Germany.

The ZZF subproject examines postsocialist, postmigrant and postcolonial historical and authenticity conflicts encompassing the debates about the new palaces in Berlin and Potsdam and the transformation of both cities after 1989. The project problematizes public places as material and immaterial spaces of social representation and design, the claim and use of which materialize specific concepts of social order and temporality.

Project Start: Mai 2019 | HERA-Projekt en/counter/points

Industrial cultural landscapes and their processes of authentication

Dr. Torsten Meyer | DBM Bochum

Industrial cultural landscapes are both a manifest expression of industrial activities and their legacy in the landscape. Inherent to them is their ‘heritage status’ that is manifested through processes of social negotiation – a form of authentication. The project compares such processes amongst others, using the example of the British UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ironbridge Gorge and Blaenavon industrial landscape, as well as the industrial landscape in the Ruhr Area.

The two British UNESCO World Heritage Sites are the focus of the comparative study, which has two overarching, interlinked goals:

On the one hand, there seems to be a certain conceptual imprecision when speaking of industrial cultural landscapes shaped by the coal industry. One of the reasons for this might be that such landscapes are, on the surface, far less physically altered than those formed by open-cast brown coal mining. In comparison, the landscape transformations associated with coal fields are mostly a result of industrial infrastructure and buildings. In this respect, these buildings in their totality gain a central place in the comparative historical analysis. The aim is not to point out them as an aggregation, but rather in their historical, typological and functional, as well as in particular their landscape-specific and landscape-defining relationship and thus to give a clearer definition of the term "industrial cultural landscape" or "industrial landscape". Linked to this conceptual accentuation is the investigation of historical processes of authentication of the aforementioned industrial landscapes, for they are significant for ascribing cultural value, and such valorisation processes that are always accompanied by inclusions and exclusions. Into this view also enter means of communication and the selections of information to be found in them, e.g. in newspapers, books and maps.

The latter topic forms the hinge to the second goal of the project, since cultural valorisation processes are fundamental for the protection, conservation and mediation programs of industrial cultural landscapes. They form another essential focus of the research project; Against the background of previous, unsuccessful efforts to classify the industrial cultural landscape of the Ruhr as a whole as institutionally worthy of protection, the analysis of successfully completed British strategies for the protection of industrial cultural landscapes gains not only academic but also cultural-political relevance. If the analysis of societal processes of valorisation already provides insights into strategies for authentication, it is necessary to analyse the approaches of institutional actors in the process of recognizing the two British UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a complementary and in-depth manner. Taking a closer and more detailed look at this, incudes so-called feasibility studies, master plans, institutional negotiation processes, strategic authentication strategies and official documents and applications submitted to UNESCO.

Project Start: 2015