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Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places

Democratizing Unruliness in an Age of Austerity

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Joshua D. Atkinson and Clayton Rosati

Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places addresses the rise of unruly spaces in society, as well as communicative strategies that citizens and activists may use to democratize them. With the widespread use of austerity measures by governments and cities, unruly spaces are an increasing fixture in our modern world. Cities such as Flint and Detroit in Michigan, Berlin in Germany, and even regions of rural America, have all been damaged by the neoliberal policies that have left cityscapes and physical environments altered and unrecognizable. We now understand that unruliness has become a constant in contemporary globalized society.

As such austerity has degraded infrastructure, depleted local economies, and poisoned neighborhoods, we feel citizens must be empowered to reclaim such unruly spaces themselves. The book explores different strategies for the democratization of such spaces in urban environments, and the potential and problems of each. Such strategies can create alternative perceptions and alter pathways through those spaces—even connect communities hidden from one another.

Students and scholars of urban communication and community activism, as well as human geography, will find the concepts and strategies explored in this book useful. The discussions related to austerity measures provide context for many contemporary neighborhoods and communities that have come to be neglected, while the chapters concerning unruly spaces provide explanations for the difficulty with such neglected or degraded environments. Finally, the illustration of different communicative strategies for the democratization of unruly spaces will demonstrate the possibilities for empowerment within communities that face such problems.

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6 Memory Modification at the DDR Museum

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Memory Modification at the DDR Museum

In this chapter, we build on the concepts introduced previously by demonstrating the ways in which memory revival can also entail memory modification. Specifically, we focus on the DDR Museum as a site in which memory was modified in such a way that allowed for people to make sense of—and take control of—unruly urban spaces in eastern Germany. This particular museum was situated in the city of Berlin, and addressed the communist past of Germany associated with the Deutche Demokratische Republik, or German Democratic Republic (GDR)—the former socialist state of East Germany.1 The democratization of space through the exhibits and materials in the museum helped people to rediscover lost spaces associated with East Berlin and the former state of East Germany prior to reunification of the nation in 1990. The museum aided in the manipulation of public memory, which influenced the overarching cityscape of Berlin and other East German cities. What is more, this form of democratization proved valuable as the fear and distrust caused by the East German government that might become associated with rediscovered lost spaces was shifted to the Soviet Union for many of the citizens who lived under the former socialist regime. In this way, then, Berlin (and other East German cities) could become a site for dialogue and reconciliation, rather than suspicion and resentment. However, this emergent ←143 | 144→vision of the lost spaces corresponded with Western nostalgia for the Cold...

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