Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies

GSZ-Newsletter April 2017

Teaching and Studying at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies

Topics:***Courses at the Georg Simmel Center in Summer Semester 2017***European University Viadrina: Job vacancy as research assistant***IRS Erkner: Worlding the city***C/O Berlin: Harf Zimmermann. Hufelandstraße***RLS: The large Siemensstadt***Q-Team: Forever Young? Precarity and Youth in Berlin***Urania: Gesundbrunnen’s future perspectives***IRS Spring Academy: Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches***

Teaching and Studying at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies

Integrating practice and research in contemporary urban development issues has always been a central concern at the Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Research. During the winter semester of 2016/2017 students had the opportunity to concentrate on controversial urban issues in courses entitled “Interdisciplinary Urban Studies “, “Housing in Berlin”, “Urban nutrition-systems“ and “Infrastructures of Arrival“.

Students working with the interdisciplinary Q-team „Green City – Just City“ have accompanied projects connected with the 2017 International Garden Exhibition in Marzahn-Hellersdorf, for a complete semester and have given practical support. Future scenarios were developed for a community garden project in Berlin-Marzahn in order to ensure long term economic sustainability. Land-use conflicts and governance issues created by major urban projects were examined taking the citizens’ action group in Kienberg-Wuhletal as an example: How should the term “public space” be interpreted? In what manner do various urban protagonists gain access and how do they justify their claims? A further Q-Team, „Infrastructures of Arrival” observed the role of civil society with regard to urban regeneration and refugee migration. NGO task-sharing was examined regarding which roles were taken on by whom and what consequences the shifting of such roles has on urban development. Participants developed theoretical approaches toward urban and migration research, processes, migration backgrounds and urban planning updated on a daily basis in Berlin and carried out minor qualitative studies.

In the seminar “Interdisciplinary Urban Research“(Supervision: Ilse Helbrecht, Talja Blockland and Jörg Niewöhner) Master and PhD students had the opportunity of discussing their final dissertations with students from other disciplines. For the fourth time, in this semester’s colloquium “Housing in Berlin“, directed by Laura Calbet i Elias and Andrej Holm , students were able to be supported from idea conception to realization of their thesis works. A part of this discussion on housing issues and related political developments may be read on the „Wohnen in Berlin“ blog.
During the coming summer semester the “Interdisciplinary Urban Research“ seminar will be continued and the Q-Team  “Green City – just city”  will also take place again. A further Q-Team will concern itself with the theme of “Forever young? Precarity and Youth in Berlin“. In addition the student organized project-tutorial “Urban Plateaus, Urban Arrangements – Urban Research by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari“ under the direction of Yannick Ecker will take place.

Further information relating to these lectures may be found on the GSZ website. Furthermore the Berlin-wide Urban Research-Lecture Directory for the coming semester will again be available as of the end of March, please go to

(Mara Hofner, GSZ-office-management)


European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder): Job vacancy as research assistant
Deadline: April 13th 2017
The European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) announces the vacancy of a job as a research assistant at the department of Cultural Sociology to work on the DFG-Project “The social construction of architectural authenticity. A cultural sociology of the evaluation processes in the urban constructed space”. It involves planning and realization of an ethnographic research in architects’ offices in Germany and abroad.


IRS Erkner: Assembling urban policy as an exercise in worlding the city
April 27th 2017 | 4pm – 6pm
How are we to understand the current urban juncture, in which cities are regularly being compared and referenced against each other? There seems to be an unending number of benchmarks, measures, metrics, and rankings produced by various sources, from international and national state agencies to NGOs, from activist groups to consultants and media outlets. All seek to position cities within a global frame. Kevin Ward, Professor of Human Geography in the School of Education, Environment and Development and Director of the Manchester Urban Institute at the University of Manchester, England, will discuss this issue at the IRS in Erkner.


C/O Berlin: Harf Zimmermann. Hufelandstraße. 1055 Berlin
April 29th till July 2nd | 11am – 8pm
The images by Harf Zimmermann evoke memories of coal smoke and bare masonry. On the crumbling facades, bullet holes from the Second World War are still visible. The endless, monotone gray penetrates everything and rules the GDR from north to south. By contrast, the residents offer a far more colorful presence than the architectural conditions of socialism: Craftsmen, artists, musicians, party officials, actors and piano makers. The Hufelandstraße, often called the “Kurfürstendamm of the East” behind closed doors, is not only an example of unedited biographies in the defunct GDR, but from today’s perspective a case study in the rapid gentrification and structural change in the inner-city following 1989 as well.


Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung: The large Siemensstadt Ringsiedlung
April 23rd 2017 | 3pm – 5pm
The large Siemensstadt as part of the reform movement during the Weimar period was contrasting the disastrous housing conditions of the working class in the late 19th and early 20th century with living spaces containing air, light and green areas. In this walk the new features of this architecturally ground-breaking working-class quarter as an answer to the social issues of the turn of century will be explicated.


Q-Team at GSZ:  Forever Young? Precarity and Youth
SoSe 2017| on Tuesdays 4pm-6pm
Precarity has become a significant global phenomenon. Especially, young people are affected: they are mostly working in atypical and insecure employment and the lack of opportunities and the uncertainties in everyday life make it increasingly difficult for them to meet the expectations of an independent adult life. Within this Q-Team we will explore these new work conditions of young people and conduct personal interviews with young people working in two of the most precarious labour fields of the city: gastronomy and the gig economy.


Urania: From Millionenbrücke to Luisenbad – Gesundbrunnen is evolving
April 20th 2017 | 3.30 pm
Gesundbrunnen has many faces. Some of them are wrinkled, others seem fresh and attractive. For about 200 years now the Badstraße has been the lifeline of the district, which once has led to a spa with an eventful past, later turned into an entertainment strip and lost its importance after the fall of the wall. The historian Carl-Peter Steinmann shows the development of this quarter of Berlin and argues that currently, Gesundbrunnen is gaining in importance.


IRS Spring Academy: Investigating Space(s): Current Theoretical and Methodological Approaches
In the past two decades the interdisciplinary field between spatial and social sciences has undergone an extraordinarily dynamic development with a high potential for innovation. On the one hand, many social-scientific disciplines performed a “spatial turn” and became more interested in integrating spatial concepts and terminology. On the other hand, disciplines like human geography or spatial planning understand space less as an exclusive object of analysis and instead emphasis a “spatial perspective” as a shared ontological ground. Against this background, the IRS Erkner launches a series of three Spring Academies. Participants will be selected according to their academic qualification as well as the suitability of their current research project to the outline of the IRS Spring Academy 2017.