The imprint of trauma on place

MSD research into the impact of trauma on urban cityscapes has been recognised by the prestigious Humboldt Foundation.

Black and white photo of woman waving over the Berlin Wall

Woman waving over the Berlin Wall. (Dan Budnik, 1961).

Dr Mirjana Ristic has been awarded a Humboldt Fellowship to develop her work on the imprint of trauma on place.

Dr Ristic’s research project will focus on urban mythology, reconstruction and the practices of the everyday in relation to the city of Berlin, the cold war and the Berlin Wall. It is part of a broader examination of the socio-political role of architecture and will touch on dark tourism and analyses of power.
“I will be investigating the role of architecture and urban design in dealing with the legacy of division that borders may leave in the cityscape. How this legacy is also inscribed in the spatial memories of citizens is something I hope to reveal.”

Research sites include:

  • Urban districts with historic sections of the Wall in their original location: Mauerpark, Bernauer Strasse, government district, Topography of Terror, and East Side Gallery.
  • Urban districts with individual relics of the Wall removed from their original location: Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, Teltow, and commercial zones.
  • Sites with commemorative traces of the borderland in the ground: trace of the Wall in the pavement, trace of the death strip in the ground at Bernauer Strasse.
  • Underground border spaces: ghost stations and the former Cold War tunnels.

The Humboldt Foundation awards a number of highly-regarded Fellowships each year that promote academic cooperation between international scholars. Successful candidates receive funding for a period of research in Germany with a host and a collaborative partner. Dr Ristic has travelled to the Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin to work with Prof Sybille Frank. She will be sponsored to learn German and become a ‘Humboldtian’ – life membership in the Foundation’s network, which provides research support, networking opportunities and events.

“You have to be optimistic when you apply for these opportunities. The timing is very good – I am developing a book proposal at the moment and will be able to work on that before the Fellowship starts in July.” Dr Ristic currently holds an Early Career Academic Fellowship in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.

Dr Ristic’s interdisciplinary research has a focus on socio-political issues in architecture and urban design including: the role of built form and urban space in constructing collective identities and mediating political power; urban violence and terrorism; spatial borders and immigration; urban heritage, memorials and spatial practices of commemoration.

The Faculty wishes Mirjana all the best with her Fellowship work.