Course Information
Urban Studies
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 



Big cities have always been focal points of social, economic, political and cultural change in societies. Berlin constitutes an excellent example of such a place. The collapse of communism and the subsequent transformation to capitalist rule created a new framework for the economic, social, cultural, political and also spatial development of the city.

Latest changes in public space, the built-environment and housing in Berlin favour some social groups while disadvantaging others. The aim of the seminar is to figure out who the winners and losers of contemporary developments are and how this is manifested in and reproduced through urban space. If and how people can 'reclaim' urban space(s) will be finally addressed.

Central points of interest will include the conflicts around the 'New Berlin' (recycling of brownfields, memories and public space), the potential and threats of Berlin as a 'Creative City' (gentrification), the spatial dimension of social exclusion (fragmented city) as well as the integration of migrants in Berlin (multiculturalism) and the perspectives of the 'right-to-the-city-movement' (i.e. guerrilla gardening).

For  highlighting  the  uniqueness  of  Berlin  in  a  global  context,  its  changing  urban landscape will be compared to the ones of Paris and St. Petersburg. Together with the insights from St. Petersburg and Paris, the course contributes to the understanding of the complexity of urban development at the beginning of the 21st century.

Attendance policy: 

Regular class attendance is mandatory. Unexcused absences will negatively affect the grade for participation. Excessive absenteeism will negatively affect the final grade. Field trips are part of class.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course students should have profound knowledge on theoretical approaches as well as on empirical evidences in interdisciplinary urban research. They are able to design an own (small) research project.

Method of presentation: 

Lectures, discussions, field trips. Moodle will be used to enhance students' learning experiences.

Required work and form of assessment: 

(percentage of final grade in parentheses)
- a midterm exam (15%),
- three glossary entries in moodle (15%),
- three moodle journal entries (15%),
- a final research paper (8-10 pages, (20%),
- participation in class discussion (35%).


Session1: Introduction


Session 2: Walking the City – Modern Berlin
Required Reading:

  • Weitz, Eric D. (2007): Weimar Germany. Promises and Tragedy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. P. 41-79.

Recommended Reading:

  • Häußermann, Hartmut; Haila, Anne (2005): The European City: A Conceptual Framework and Normative Project. In: Kazepov, Y. Ed.: Cities of Europe. Changing Contexts, Local Arrangements, and the Challenge to Urban Cohesion. Oxford: Blackwell. P. 43-63.

Session 3: Transforming Berlin – From Socialism to Capitalism
Required Reading:

  • Häußermann, Hartmut (1996): From the Socialist to the Capitalist City: Experiences from Germany. In: Andrusz, G.; Harloe, M.; Szelenyi, I., Eds.: Cities after Socialism. Oxford: Blackwell. P. 214-231.

Recommended Reading:

  • Glock, Birgit; Häußermann, Hartmut; Keller, Carsten (2007): Social and Spatial Consequences of the Restitution of Real Estate. In: Stanilov, K., Ed.: The Post-Socialist City. Urban Form and Space Transformations in Central and Eastern Europe after Socialism. Dordrecht: Springer. P. 191-214.

Session 4: Reinventing Berlin - Contested Memories and Symbols
Required Reading:

  • Ladd,  Brian  (1997):  Ghosts  of  Berlin.  Confronting  German  History  in  the  Urban Landscape. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press. P. 175-215.

Recommended Reading:

  • Binder, Beate; Niedermüller, Peter (2006): The "New Berlin": Reconstructing the Past and Envisioning the Future. In: Lenz, G.; Ulfers, F.; Dallmann, A., Eds.: Toward a New Metropolitanism. Reconstituting Public Culture, Urban Citizenship, and the Multicultural Imaginary in New York and Berlin. Heidelberg, Universitätsverlag Winter. P. 217-235.

Session 5: Transforming St. Petersburg – Between 'Kommunalka' und 'Penthouse'
Required Reading

  • Utekhin, Ilya (2004): Local Identity and Historical Memory of Community: The Case of "Communal Appartements" in St. Petersburg. In: Kupiainen, Jari; Sevänen, Erkki; Stotesbury, John A., Eds.: Cultural Identity in Transition: Contemporary Conditions, Practices and Politics of a Global Phenomenon. P. 207-233.

Recommended Reading:

  • Hamilton, Ian; Andrews, Kaliopa, Dimitrovska; Pichler-Milanovic, N., Eds. (2005): Transformation of Cities in Central and Eastern Europe. Tokyo, New York, Paris: United Nations University Press.
  • Tsenkova, Sasha, Ed. (2006): The Urban Mosaic of Post-Socialist Europe. Space, Institutions and Policy. Heidelberg: Physica Verlag


Session 6(14:30 – 16:00): "Poor but Sexy?" Creative City Berlin (in class)
Required Reading:

  • Lange, Bastian; Kalandides, Ares; Stöber, Birgit; Mieg, Harald (2008): Berlin's Creative Industries: Governing Creativity? In: Industry and Innovation. Volume 15, Issue 5. P. 531-548

Recommended Reading:

  • Florida, Richard (2002): The Rise of the Creative Class. And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure and Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books.

Session 7(16:00 – 18:00): Recycled Berlin - Waterfront Development "Media- Spree" (Field trip)

Session 8: "Embourgeoisement"– Gentrification in Paris
Required Reading:

  • Simon, Patrick (2006): Gentrification of Old Historical Neighbourhoods and Social Integration. In: Kazepov, Y., Ed.: Cities of Europe. Changing Contexts, Local Arrangements, and the Challenge to Urban Cohesion. Oxford: Blackwell. P. 210-233.

Recommended Reading:

  • Atkinson, R.;  Bridge, G., Eds.: Gentrification in  a Global Context. The New Urban Colonialism. London, New York: Routledge.


St. Petersburg Excursion

Session 9(14:30 – 15:30): Feedback-Session (in class)

Session 10(15:30 – 17:45): Gentrification in Berlin - The Case of Prenzlauer Berg (Field Trip)


Session 11: The Dual City– Berlins' Deprived Neighborhoods
Required Reading:

  • Murie, Alan (2006): The Dynamics of Social Exclusion and Neighborhood Decline: Welfare Regimes, Decommodification, Housing and Urban Inequality. In: Kazepov, Y., Ed.: Cities of  Europe.  Changing  Contexts,  Local  Arrangements,  and  the  Challenge  to  Urban Cohesion. Oxford: Blackwell. P. 151-170.

Recommended Reading:

  • Musterd, Sako; Murie, Alan; Kesteloot, Chris, Eds. (2006): Neighborhoods of Poverty. Urban Social Exclusion and Integration in Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Session 12 (Friday!): From Privilege to Stigma - The 'Platte' (Field trip to Marzahn) Paris Excursion


Session 13: Neighborhoods of  Last Choice? 'Banlieues' in Paris
Required Reading:

  • Wacquant, Loic (1996): Red Belt, Black Belt: Racial division, Class Inequality and the State in the French Urban Periphery and the American Ghetto. In: Mingione, Enzo, Ed: Urban Poverty and the Underclass. Oxford, Cambridge. P. 234-274.

Recommended Reading:

  • Dekker, Karien; Hall, Stephan; van Kempen, Ronald; Tosics, Iván, Eds. (2005): Restructuring Large-Scale Housing Estates in Europe. Bristol.
  • Palomares, Elise; Simon, Patrick (2006): Paris: Neighborhood Identity as a Ressource for the Urban Poor. In: Musterd, S.; Murie, A.; Kesteloot, C., Eds. (2006): Neighborhoods of Poverty. Urban Social Exclusion and Integration in Europe. London: Palgrave Macmillan. P. 120-138.


Session 14(14:30-16:00): More than 'Döner' and 'Blinys'? – Migrants in Germany
Required Reading:

  • Söhn,   Janina;   Schönwalder,   Karen   (2009):   Immigrant   Settlement   Structures in Germany: General Patterns and Urban Levels of Concentration of Major Groups. In: Urban Studies, 46 (7): 1439-1460.

Recommended Reading:

  • Neill, William J.V.; Schwedler, Hanns-Uve, Eds. (2006): Migration and Cultural Inclusion in the European City. Palgrave: Macmillan.

Session 15(16:15-17:45): Turkish Migrants and Urban Space in Kreuzberg
Required Reading:

  • Novy,  J.  (2012):  Kreuzberg's  Multi-  and  Intercultural  Realities.  Are  they  Assets? In:  Aytar,  V.;  Rath,  Jan   (Eds.):  Selling  Ethnic  Neighborhoods:  The  Rise  of Neighborhoods as Places of Leisure and Consumption. New York, London: Routledge.

Recommended Reading:

  • Beer,  Ingeborg; Deniz,  Alev;  Schwedler, Hanns-Uve (2006):  Berlin:  Urban,  Social and Ethnic Integration - an Urban Policy Challenge. In: Neill, W.J.V.; Schwedler, H-U., Eds.: Migration and Cultural Inclusion in the European City. Palgrave: Macmillan. P. 136-147.


Session 16: A Right to the City?!
Required Reading:

  • Harvey, David (2003): The Right to the City. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27 (4): 939-941.

Recommended Reading:

  • Marcuse, Peter (2009): From Critical Urban Theory to the Right to the City. In: City, 13 (2-3): 185-197.

Session 17 (14:30-16:00): Reclaiming the City (Field trip); (16:15-17:45): Who are the Winners and the Losers?  Whose City is it? Closing Session (in café)

Final exam