Shadow Places: Urban Strategies of Dealing with Painful Pasts.German Historical Institute Warsaw, Aleje Ujazdowskie 39, 00-540 Warsaw, Poland, 07.03.2019 – 09.03.2019

Cities define themselves through historically acquired self-images. They are the projection screens and creators of social identities – and often come with historical burdens, sometimes even to the point of becoming iconographic condensations of past brutalities. Quite a few cities use these stigmas to their advantage, as “authentic” distinguishing characteristics in the global competition for urban tourism.

The term “shadow place” is a neologism that draws attention to memorialization and touristification as social processes. It designates places that are confronted with a publicly known and labelled historical burden, that are informed by them as spaces of memory, and have become tourist attractions as a result. Shadow places are different from “dark” or “evil” places in that their meaning cannot be solely reduced to terrors of the past; the attribute “shadow” implies positive as well as negative interpretations of the past. Accordingly, shadow places define spaces where the tension plays out between affliction and liberation, victimhood and heroism, between the onus and the pleasures of the past. It is the reception of historical burden and its place in the cultural memory of posterity, and not the historical events themselves, that decides on the type and degree of shadow cast on a particular place.

(I) The first core question of the conference is: How strongly do historical shadows cling to a place? Is there such a thing as a negative urban memory, an image that is inextricably linked to a certain place due to the willful politics of a city and its PR officers, that becomes a permanent fixture of a city in its self-perception and its perception by others, and that has a formative influence on its character? What role do its inhabitants play in their desire to live an unencumbered life in “their city,” and what effect can political efforts play in replacing or at least counteracting the negative image of a city with positive ones?

(II) A second focus of the conference is on the ambivalence of places, their “dissonant heritage” (Ashworth/Turnbridge), and hence on conflicting narratives. Who determines which are the “light” and which are the “dark” chapters of history? When is the painful suffering of victims, and when tragic heroism image-forming? What role do shame and pride play in city marketing and regional profiling? Which processes, dynamics and protagonists decide which shadows will be turned into narrative history? How are the “dark” and the “bright” aspects of urban history reconciled with each other? In what way are the dissonances between particular and universal, between local, national and supranational interpretations managed?

(III) The third focus of the conference is on the touristic use of historically burdened places, a phenomenon that is usually dealt with under the concept of “dark tourism” (or sometimes “thanatourism”). According to Philip R. Stone, the concept describes “the act of travel to sites associated with death, suffering and the seemingly macabre.” The concept of “shadow places” would like to go beyond previous concepts by exploring the reasons for the growing popularity of places with a burdened past while at the same time contextualizing these places in the travel itinerary of tourists, who normally visit many different places during a single visit. The conference would like to investigate which role historical authenticity plays in the expectations of tourists.

There is no registration fee. If you would like to attend, please register by Monday, March 4, 2019 at: stach@dhi.waw.pl.


Thursday March 7

Martin Sabrow, Miloš Řezník, Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska, Sabine Stach

14.15 – 15.45 CITY BRANDING
Teresa Walch (Jerusalem): The ‘Liberated City’: Transforming Berlin from Red to Brown in 1933
Gruia Bădescu (Konstanz): Towards Syncretic Place-Making: Urban Interventions in Post-War Sarajevo between Cosmopolitan and Antagonistic Imaginaries
Brent McKenzie (Guelph): Reval to Tallinn to Talsinki: The (Dark) Evolution of Estonia’s ‘Capital Brand’
Panel Discussion, Host: Annika Wienert (Warsaw)

15.45-16.15 Coffee Break

Nigel Bond (Auckland): Emperor’s New Clothes: Museums as In Populo sites of Dark Tourism
Arunima Ghoshal (Delhi): Redefining Colonial Spatialities through the Everyday Experience of Postcolonial Heritage Practices.
Panel Discussion, Host: Stefanie Eisenhuth (Potsdam)

Public Evening Event

Philip Stone, Jörg Skriebeleit, Jessica Moody, Dorota Sajewska
Host: Hanno Hochmuth


Friday March 8

09:00 – 10.15
Astrid Erll: Shadow Places of Migration (Keynote)
Host: Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska

10.15 – 10.45 Coffee Break

10.45 – 11.45 ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE OF PENAL SYSTEMS Henriette Bertram (Kassel): Shadow Places in the Post-Conflict City: Transforming Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast
Julie Deschepper (Paris)/Margaret Comer (Cambridge): The House of the Chekists in Yekatarinburg: ‘Dark’ Past and Unique Architecture. How to Deal with Shadow Heritage?
Panel Discussion, Host: Achim Saupe (Potsdam)

Felix Ackermann (Warsaw): The Afterlife of Prisons: Reusing Infrastructures of Solitary Confinement in Barcelona, Warsaw, and Lviv
Ciprian Niţu (Timişoara): Dark Tourism in Romania. The Cases of Sighet and Piteşti Prison Memorials
Panel Discussion, Host: Achim Saupe (Potsdam)

12.45 – 13.45 Lunch Break

Siri Driessen (Rotterdam): Summers of War. Volunteer Tourism to Former War Sites in Europe
Corinne Geering (Leipzig): Lingering Heroin Dust in European Cities: Urban Tourism and the Public Trauma of Drug Abuse in the 1980-90s
Elisabeth Carnegie/Jerzy Kociatkiewicz (Sheffield): Dances with Despots: Reinterpretation and Recontextualization of Urban Monuments and the Conflicted Role of the Engaged Tourist
Panel Discussion, Host: Sabine Stach (Warsaw)

Quick Coffee

15.30 Excursions

Saturday March 9

9.00 – 10.30 POST-WAR SPACES
Peter Pirker/Philipp Rhode (Vienna): From Palimpsest to Me-moiré: Exploring Urban Memorial Landscapes of Political Violence
Roma Sendyka (Cracow): Landscape of Manhunts: Designing Commemorations for KL Płaszów in Krakow
Scott Laderman (Duluth): Imagined Memory. Tourists and Painful Pasts in Postwar Vietnam
Panel Discussion, Host: Felix Ackermann (Warsaw)

10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break

11.00 – 12.30 DIVIDED SPACES
Emily Mannheimer (Rotterdam): Space and Politics in Troubles Tourism Representation in Belfast
Hanno Hochmuth (Potsdam): Berlin’s Shadow Places: Authenticity and Histotainment in the ‘Rome of Contemporary History’
Susanne Muhle (Berlin): Constructing Historical Places of the Cold War Era: The Examples of Bernauer Straße and Checkpoint Charlie
Panel Discussion, Host: Irmgard Zündorf (Potsdam)

12.30 – 13.30: Lunch Break

Magdalena Banaszkiewicz (Cracow): Haunted Heritage of Pripyat. Space Interventions in the City of Ghost
Simon Yin (Hefei): Post-Earthquake Wenchuan as a Shadow Place. Focusing on Conflicting Narratives
Panel Discussion, Host: Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska (Warsaw)

14.30 – 15.30 WRAP-UP DISCUSSION
Host: Hanno Hochmuth & Stefanie Eisenhuth (Potsdam)





Sabine Stach (stach@dhi.waw.pl)