2007, Sat, Oct 20

Spectacular Places: Times Square and Potsdamer Platz

New York - Berlin: Cultural Diversity in Urban Space

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Times Square, New York | (c) Frank Paul

Due to their symbolic power, these two famous central plazas in New York and Berlin command special public interest. They are focal points of their cities' self-image in the larger sense, as well as objects of identification for the urban residents. What cultural-historical meaning do these plazas have for New York and Berlin? What takes place there, and who decides this?

With Marshall Berman (political scientist, City College of New York and author of "On the Town. One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square", 2006), Hans Stimmann (former director, Senate Department of Construction and Housing, Berlin).

Moderated by Anne Huffschmid (cultural studies expert and journalist, taz newspaper)

Marshall Berman is a professor of political science at City College of New York and at City University of New York where he teaches political philosophy and urbanism. Mr. Berman describes himself as a Marxist Humanist and has published numerous articles and books on Marxism (All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Adventures in Marxism, among others). He is on the editorial board of Dissent and contributes regularly to The Nation and The New York Times Books Review. His most recent publications include On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square (2006) and New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg (with Brian Berger, ed., 2007).

Anne Huffschmid is a freelance author and cultural scientist whose main academic focus remains Latin America. Her research, publications, and teaching include such areas as discourse cultures, political public, metropolitan culture, urban semiotics, and cultural exchange. After graduating in economics, theater studies, and journalism from Free University in Berlin, Ms. Huffschmid organized a German-Mexican exhibition project, “Mexico: City of Women” (NGBK, House of World Cultures). From 1993 through 2003 she was a Mexico correspondent for the German daily die taz and continues writing for the newspaper since then. Her current research project deals with crisis and memory politics in urban space and is based on a comparison between Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Berlin. The project led to the publication of the book Stadt als Labor (2006).

Hans Stimmann is an architect and urban planner. In 1986 he was appointed Senator of Building and Construction in his hometown Lübeck. In 1991 he became the Senate Building Director at the Senate Department of Construction and Housing in Berlin and held this position for six years. From 1996 through 1999 Mr. Stimmann served as the State Secretary of Planning at the Senate Department for Urban Development, Environment and Technology. During his term he designed the ‘Planwerk Innenstadt’, a masterplan for inner city redevelopment and supported contextual city planning in the spirit of Critical Reconstruction: a theory developed in Berlin following the fall of the Wall and aimed at restoration of traditional urbanism. From 1999 through 2006 Mr. Stimmann once again held the position of Senate Building Director.

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)