CfA: Summer School “The Socialist City: Planning, Transformation and Aftermath”

Piotr Kisiel's picture
Summer Program
August 1, 2022 to August 5, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, European History / Studies, Teaching and Learning, Urban History / Studies

Summer School: “The Socialist City: Planning, Transformation and Aftermath”

1-5 August 2022, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS)


This summer school will examine the concept of the socialist city in a broader European context. Participants will take a close look at academic debates about socialist cities and their relevance for and place in European urban history. Case studies from cities across the Eastern Block – the Soviet Union, the GDR, Poland and Yugoslavia – illustrate similarities and differences between several states in Eastern Europe. By bringing the counterexamples from France we will look closer what was specific about the socialist cities and what was merely a part of the post-war urbanism.

Particular attention will be paid to urban planning and architecture, housing as well as the legacy of the socialist city (“post-socialist city”). Distinguished scholars from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, and Ukraine will share their expertise and different approaches the topic.

Besides analysing socialist cities in a seminar format, this summer school invites students to participate in guided walks, in order to explore different dimensions of a socialist city (urban planning, heritage preservation and dictatorship) in the living spaces of (former) East Berlin.

The summer school’s goal is to support young scholars and help them establish their own academic networks. There will be an opportunity for some students to present their own projects and receive feedback.

We look forward to seeing you in August!

The summer school will be conducted in English at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS) in Erkner near Berlin. It is organized by the Research Area Contemporary History and Archive of the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), with the financial support from the Federal Minister of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) and the Federal Foundation for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Eastern Germany.



  • Deadline for application: 01.04.2022.
  • M.A. students and PhD students in their initial stage.
  • Disciplinary backgrounds: History, Memory Studies, Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Urban Studies, Geography, Architecture and Urban Planning, Cultural Studies, broader Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • The applicants should provide a one-page CV and a letter of motivation (max. 500 words), that includes information on the applicant’s scholarly background, interests, and career goals.
  • Optionally, please send abstract (max. 300 words) of a proposed presentation.
  • Fees: 75 euros, which covers accommodation (in Berlin), and board (welcome dinner, breakfasts and lunches at the IRS). Cost of travel and lunch on 4.08 is not covered.
  • There is a limited number of bursaries available to candidates: three students will be invited to participate free of charge and additionally, one student will receive a refund for the travel expenses (up to 250€). Please mention in the motivation letter why you would need such a support.
  • Application should be submitted as one PDF file until 01.04.2022 to the e-mail-address:
  • Please note that all participants have to be either fully vaccinated, have a recovered status or have a daily COVID-test (“3G-Rule”). This rule might change depending on the future developments and decisions of the authorities.


Tentative programme

01.08.2022 Start of the Summer School

14:00 - 15:00 Registration

15:00 - 17:00 Introductory Lecture: Prof. Dr. Christoph Bernhardt (IRS)

18:30 - 20:00 Welcome Dinner

02.08.2022. Urban Planning & Architecture

09:00 - 09:45 USRR: Dr. Daria Bocharnikova (KU Leuven)

10:00 - 10:45 Poland: Dr. Piotr Kisiel (IRS)

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00 Yugoslavia: Dr. Gruia Badescu (Universität Konstanz)

12:15 - 13:00 France: Dr. Daniel Hadwiger (IRS)

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch

14:30 - 15:30 Discussion: Socialist City in European Urban History

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30 Student’s Presentation (3x 20 min + 30 min discussion)

3.08.2022 Housing

09:00 - 09:45 USRR: Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe)

10:00 - 10:45 Poland: Prof. Dr. Barbara Klich-Kluczewska (Jagiellonian University Kraków)

10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break

11:15 - 12:00 Yugoslavia: Dr. Rory Archer (Universität Graz)

12:15 - 13:00 France: Prof. Dr. Kenny R. Cupers (Universität Basel)

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch

14:00 - 14:45 Discussion: Housing in Post-War Europe

15:00 - 15:30 Visit to the IRS Archives with Dr. Kai Drewes (IRS)

15:30 - 16:00 Coffee Break

16:00 - 17:30 Student’s Presentation (3x 20 min + 30 min discussion)

4.08.2022 DDR: East-Berlin

Group 1: Stalinallee: Andreas Butter (IRS)

Group 2: Hohenschönhausen: Dr. Elke Stadelmann-Wenz (Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen)

Group 3: Nikolaiviertel & Gendarmenmarkt: Dr. Daniel Hadwiger (IRS) & Dr. Piotr Kisiel (IRS)

15:00-16:00 Discussion: East-Berlin as a Socialist City (at the Bezirkszentralbibliothek Pablo Neruda)

5.08.2022 Post-Socialist city

09:00 - 09:45 Ukraine: Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko (Center for Urban History of East Central Europe)

10:15 - 11:00 Germany: Dr. Harald Engler (IRS)

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 - 13:00 Discussion: Who needs “the Post-Socialist City”?

13:00 - 14:30 Lunch and End of the Summer School

Contact Info: 

Dr Piotr Kisiel

Contemporary History and Archive, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Flakenstraße 29-31, 15537 Erkner, Germany