Subproject Diskurs

Worlds of Maps – Worlds of Texts. Cartographic and Written Discourses on the Reconstruction of East Central European Cities.

Dr. Elisa-Maria Hiemer

The project is based on the assumption that geographical knowledge and the appropriation of space combine historical, social, political and economic aspects. It aims not only to investigate the production, distribution and reception of city maps and accompanying texts, but also to reveal their strategies for shaping not only real city transformations, but also cognitive maps, or their character as imaginative performance.

The sub-project focuses on six cities (Brieg/Brzeg, Kolberg/Kołobrzeg, Elbing/Elbląg, Drohobycz, Grodno, Brest) that underwent massive political, administrative, ethnic and structural changes in the period 1939-1953 and analyses them according to four guiding questions:

  1. what is the relationship between discourses on the reconstruction and development of cities in cartographic sources on the one hand and in textual sources on the other?
  2. which actors (map authors and text authors) shape these discourses, and which approach succeeds?
  3. How did the relationship between the national socialist urban reconstruction and rebuilding projects from 1941 and the socialist city administration from 1945 develop? How did this change and influence the objectives of reconstruction and the local appropriation of historic building fabric?
  4. In what way did the actors argue about what was to be considered a “loss” or a “gain” or even as “progress” under the impression of the Second World War?

The interdisciplinary approach brings together maps (maps and map drafts for planning, status surveys, internal and published city plans) and text material of different origin (travel guides, university and school textbooks and so-called grey literature such as jubilee publications and city chronicles). Besides the analysis of the rhetoric of gain and loss in the face of war destruction, the interplay between socialist maxims and the country-specific (PL, BY, UKR) interpretations of urban development is to be scrutinized: How is the reshaping of historical consciousness brought together with national urban space narratives? How, for example, is responsibility for destruction addressed, given that many cities suffered from massive damage after the end of the war due to arson and looting by various groups. How do local actors try to present their own visions of reconstruction (in the face of censorship)?