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Polish-German Border Towns: Models of Transnationalism?

Border towns 1.JPG

Funded by the British Academy this project investigates the transformations of public space in interface areas of the German-Polish ‘twin towns’ of Frankfurt-Slubice, Guben-Gubin and Görlitz-Zgorzelec along the Oder-Neisse border. Despite modest populations, the border towns have major symbolic value for two nations attempting to write a new chapter in a modern history marked by war, trauma and deep resentments. The eastward expansion of the EU has propelled the towns from the margins to the heart of Europe. Cultural and socio-economic divisions nevertheless run deep. With the opening of the borders in 2007 changing physical realities are dramatically impacting possibilities of transnational interactions. This project offers the first comparative study of the border towns and specifically the role of spatial settings in cross-border exchange. This allows for a more contextual account of the relationship between social practice and place in German-Polish twin towns and sheds light on how communities use urban environments to cope with legacies of conflict and ongoing ethno-national difference.

Principal Investigator: Dr Maximilian Sternberg

Associated researcher: Lefkos Kyriacou

Photographer: Matthias Schumann (www.monofoto.de)