Cultural Geography Workgroup

Militarized landscapes - landscapes of memory (finished 2016)

Practices of localized remembrance of the Cold War


Prof. Florian Dünckmann (head of project)
Dr. Gunnar Maus (research associate)

Funded by the DFG Research Grants Programme since March 2013 (duration: 2+1 years)

 The project's own website at also offers some futher information in English

Recollection and remembrance are not authentic reproductions of a true past that is now stored in collective memory. In fact, they should be conceptualized as active and often contested reconstructions that are deeply rooted in the present. The subject of this project are thus practices of remembrance and memory, heritage protection, museums and practices of discovery, like e.g. geocaching, in which places and artefacts are recontextualized as objects of collective memory.

Wasserkuppe radome
The Cold War offers itself as a case study, since memory of that era is clearly visible as an ongoing process that has not yet led to stable patterns of remembrance.

This research conforms with the relatively new field of the geography of memory and seeks to pair it with theories of practice. In this view, remembering in a spatial context consists of a set of practices that allocate meaning to places and artefacts, such as Cold War relics. Together, they constitute what could be called landscapes of memory. Two different case study areas have been identified for fieldwork: Schleswig-Holstein, on the one hand, is heavily affected by current redeployment of the German armed forces. On the other hand, the region referred to as the Fulda Gap is an epitome of the Cold War for the Federal Republic in general and for the peace movement in particular. An ethnographic approach encompassing participant observation, interviews, document and museum analysis, as well as focus group discussions will shed light on practices of memory: How is memory actually lived and embodied in everyday life? How do such practices re-produce and negotiate imaginative geographies of memory? The methods applied are set up as a public geography to allow for the affected communities to be involved in the research process.