Urban Histories of Traumatic Pasts and Imagined Futures


  • Behind Manama Plaza, Juffair Bahrain Bahrain

WWII had a profound impact on cities—including, but not limited to, military destruction—that spurred artists and planners on to reimagine urban landscapes of the future. Many of these representations and plans drew on the legacies of the interwar avant-garde, but they were operating in a fundamentally changed environment after WWII. The perception of cities at the time was torn between the abstractions of a future-driven universal modernism, and historical analyses that aimed at understanding causes of, and solutions to postwar challenges.

In other words, the postwar city was at the crossroads of a historical amnesia and a historical awareness of the past, making it a rich environment for thinking about the relationship between archives and memory. Drawing on the work of artists and planners in New York City, West Berlin, and Tokyo, this talk investigates notions of urban memory, and questions what it means to preserve the city as an archive.