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Place branding in Berlin in the new century
Funding body: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (Fellowship for Experienced Researchers) Hosting institution: Centre for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin This research project investigated the politics and practices of city marketing and place branding developed in Berlin post-2000, and built on previous research which covered the period 1989-2000. The emerging urban landscape of the ‘new’ Berlin post-1989 has not only been physically built, it has also been presented to the public eye, imaged, marketed, staged and branded, discursively and visually, through billboards presenting the projects under construction, a red INFOBOX on the Potsdamer Platz displaying three-dimensional visualisations of the future Berlin, models of the city displayed in public buildings, programmes of guided tours of the construction sites, observation platforms inviting the passer-by to peer into the construction process, advertising campaigns for ‘The New Berlin’ posted on the city’s facades. The research gives an empirical and detailed account of the practices of place marketing and ‘staging of the city’ in Berlin between 1989 and 2009, addressing the following questions: what are the networks of actors and institutions involved in the production of place marketing policies, strategies and discourses (type, agenda, resources, legitimizing arguments)? Why is there still so much effort put into the representation, communication and staging of urban change? How are place marketing activities implemented, through what media? How have place marketing strategies evolved over time between the end of the 1990s and 2009 in line with the changing political, economic and social situation in the city? What images, what discourse on the city and what narrative of urban change have been produced (recurring themes, key sites)? The aim is to analyse how place marketing practices, images and discourses aimed at the symbolic (re)imaging of urban space interrelate with the conflictual politics of urban redevelopment in Berlin and the complex debates surrounding memory and identity construction through urban space – what Bass Warner and Vale refer to as ‘the interplay between the physical stuff of planners and architects and the social experience and outlooks of image makers and their audiences’ (2001: xiii).
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