Shadow Places. Urban Strategies of Dealing with Painful Pasts
International Conference · March 7–10, 2019 · German Historical Institute, Warsaw
Cities define themselves through historically acquired self-images. They are the projection screens and creators of social identities – and often come with historical burdens, sometimes even to the point of becoming iconographic condensations of past brutalities. Quite a few cities use these stigmas to their advantage, as “authentic” distinguishing characteristics in the global competition for urban tourism.
The term “shadow place” is a neologism that draws attention to memorialization and touristification as social processes. It designates places that are confronted with a publicly known and labelled historical burden, that are informed by them as spaces of memory, and have become tourist attractions as a result. Shadow places are different from “dark” or “evil” places in that their meaning cannot be solely reduced to terrors of the past; the attribute “shadow” implies positive as well as negative interpretations of the past. Accordingly, shadow places define spaces where the tension plays out between affliction and liberation, victimhood and heroism, between the onus and the pleasures of the past. It is the reception of… read more