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Urban Design and Authoritarian Government – European Dictatorships in the 20th Century in International Perspective

Roundtable Discussion funded by the German Research Foundation at the University of Kassel on 25 and 26 August 2014

Uwe Altrock, Universität Kassel,
Harald Kegler, Universität Kassel,

To strengthen the network of researchers working on 20th century dictatorships in Europe and urban development, researchers from the University of Kassel, TU Berlin and Bauhaus University Weimar hosted a roundtable discussion. About 20 scholars from Germany and abroad discussed avenues for a more systematic research and perspectives for the funding of research networks. The underlying idea was that there is a lot of detailed research in a number of European countries that have witnessed dictatorships in the 20th century especially when it comes to matters of architectural form, whereas a broader approach transcending this narrow perspective is only gradually established. The following questions seem to need a more thorough reasearch approach that is truly international in nature and may allow for comparisons and for significant contributions in the context of the contemporary perception of legacies of dicatorships in a democratic environment:

How is an authoritarian system of urban design established?
Are there specific products and traditions of urban form?
How is urban design in dictatorships influenced by international exchange both in political and professional terms?
What are the specific features of the production of urban space in dictatorships when looking beyond representational urban design for the state itself?
The roundtable discussion offered an opportunity for productive interdisciplinary exchange between scholars from the fields of architecture, planning, history, history of art, preservation and political science that have all contributed to the overall theme of the roundtable discussion.
In the future, research activities of the participants will build on completed and on-going projects dealing with the situation in, among others, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Balkans, and linking it more actively with the activities of networks such as UEDXX.

1 ehemal parlament jugoslawiens 1961

Former Parliament of Yugoslavia (inaugurated in 1961), nowadays Parliament of Serbia. The built legacy left behind by the dictatorship in former Yugoslavia was discussed during the presentation “Research on Forgotten Dictatorships” (Harald Kegler). Photograph by Harald Kegler 2014, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0