2007, Fri, Oct 19

Legendary Harlem - Legendary Kreuzberg

New York - Berlin: Cultural Diversity in Urban Space

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Legend has it that Kreuzberg and Harlem are "different" – the result of cultural stereotyping, spatial isolation and economic marginalisation, as well as of a tradition of lived and desired difference. The panel will discuss commonalities and differences between these two unusual urban districts – with regard not just to their image, but to their characteristic realities, opportunities and risks.


With David Maurrasse (Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, New York, and author of Listening to Harlem, 2006) and Martin Düspohl (Kreuzberg Museum, Berlin).

Moderated by Sandra Huning (Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York) and Johannes Novy (Columbia University and Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York)


Martin Düspohl is the director of the Kreuzberg Museum in Berlin. After graduating in pedagogy and sociology from Free University Berlin, from 1983 until 1986 Düspohl was responsible for program organization at the communal cultural center Ballhaus Naunynstraße, Berlin-Kreuzberg. Since 1990 Mr. Düspohl has been working at the Kreuzberg District Office (Bezirksamt) where he focuses on urban planning and Berlin’s social history. At the museum his projects include immigration history and adult education. He has published extensively on these and other topics, e.g. Wir waren die ersten – Türkiye’ den Berlin’e (2001) and Stolpersteine – für die von den Nazis ermordeten ehemaligen Nachbarn aus Friedrichshain und Kreuzberg (2002).


Sandra Huning studied spatial planning in Dortmund and Grenoble. From 2000 through 2005 she was lecturer and researcher at the Urban Sociology Unit, Institute for Sociology, Technical University Berlin and from 2004 through 2006 she was an RTN fellow of the project “Urban Europe – Between Identity and Change.“ In 2006 she defended her doctoral dissertation: Political Action in Public Space. Her research interests focus on urban sociology and planning theory, especially regarding public spaces, urban development and tourism, and participation. She is a co-editor of the series Planungsrundschau and a post-doc at the Graduate Research Program Berlin-New York, Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin.


David Maurassee is an assistant professor in the School of International Affairs and the Department of Urban Planning at Columbia University. His research interests are social movements, nonprofit organizations, community building, and partnerships between major institutions and communities. His latest book, Listening to Harlem (2006), examines the economic revalorization of the low-income, minority community Harlem as well as its consequences. Mr. Maurassee is also an independent consultant in various areas of nonprofit management as well as program development and assessment. He is the president and CEO of a consulting company, Marga Incorporated. Mr. Maurassee came to Columbia from the Rockefeller Foundation, where he managed a portfolio on community building and created a small grants initiative on higher education-community partnerships.


Johannes Novy studied urban and regional planning in Berlin and is currently a PhD candidate at Columbia University in New York. His academic interests include urban development and renewal, planning theory, and city tourism. He has also conducted numerous projects on urban architecture and planning. Alongside his academic researches, he works as a freelance journalist and has cooperated with the German daily newspaper die taz and the WDR broadcasting station.


The conference is a joint event of the House of World Cultures and the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin/New York.


Concept: Susanne Stemmler (Center for Metropolitan Studies) and Sven Arnold (House of World Cultures)