TURBA Seminar: "Remaking Berlin through water infrastructure, 1920-2020"

The Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory research group (TURBA Lab) of the IN3 is pleased to invite you to the online seminar: «Remaking Berlin through water infrastructure, 1920-2020», given by Timothy Moss, Senior Researcher at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys) at the Humboldt University of Berlin.




15/01/2021 11.30h

Organized by

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Research group TURBA Lab of the IN3


This seminar is part of the Urban Transformation and Global Change Seminar Series.


This talk will present key findings from my recently published book Remaking Berlin. A History of the City through Infrastructure, 1920-2020 (MIT Press, 2020). Whilst the book covers a range of infrastructures, I will focus here on those enrolled in providing water and wastewater services. I have always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of Berlin’s long-lived infrastructures and its turbulent twentieth-century history. What impact did diverse political regimes (fascist, democratic, state socialist) and socio-economic disruption (hyperinflation, depression, war, division, reunification) have on infrastructures renowned for their obduracy? In what ways did these sociotechnical systems reflect and reinforce, but also hinder and resist, the aspirations of different political regimes? In my talk I will explore the technopolitics of Berlin’s water infrastructures from the creation of Greater Berlin in 1920 to the present day. In doing so, I will draw on emblematic illustrations from across the century and, to frame the analysis, on concepts of continuity and change to urban infrastructure systems. My findings will demonstrate how a 100-year perspective on a city’s infrastructures can reveal them to be more multi-centred, non-linear, changeable, contestable and unmanageable than is widely assumed.

Timothy Moss

Senior Researcher at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human-Environment Systems (IRI THESys) at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he leads the research group Urban Infrastructures and Human-Environment Relations. Tim studied European Studies at the University of Sussex and European History at Oxford University before completing his doctorate on municipal politics in Weimar Germany at Oxford. In March 2020 he was made an Honorary Professor by the Leibniz University Hannover. Tim’s research is distinctive for connecting historical studies of infrastructure with contemporary debates on sociotechnical and urban transitions. He draws on relational and socio-spatial concepts from urban geography and science and technology studies to analyse past infrastructural trajectories, setting an example in theoretical grounding for historical research. Conversely, he uses analysis of the past as a source of historical contextualisation and critical reflection for scholarship on current transitions to urban networked infrastructures. He is particularly interested in the processes by which energy and water reflect and reproduce the multiple geographies, power relations and socio-materialities of a city.


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