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Thursday, 9 September

Welcome & Introduction

4:30 pm (CET) | 10:30 am (EDT) | 7:30 am (PDT)

Welcome address by the organizing team Juliane Borosch (University of Duisburg-Essen), Johannes Maria Krickl (Ruhr-University Bochum) and Hanna Rodewald (TU Dortmund University), members of the graduate research group Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions (short: City Scripts).

Afterwards, the City Scripts speaker Barbara Buchenau and co-speaker Jens Gurr will introduce the work of the research group.

As the symposium was originally set to be held in Detroit, Diane van Buren Zachary and Ernest Zachary of the Detroit-based urban development and consulting firm Zachary & Associates - civic partners of the City Scripts group - will briefly introduce the city of Detroit.

Opening Keynote


5 p.m. (CET) | 11 a.m. (EDT) | 8 a.m. (PDT)

Turning the Spatial Planners’ Story in a New Direction
James Throgmorton (University of Iowa)

Opening Keynote

Having practiced and/or taught urban planning in the U. S. for 50 years, I understand that my own career is both part of and influenced by the scholars’ collective story. But I want to take this opportunity to activate our imaginations by reading the scholars’ story with a fresh pair of eyes. To do so, I plan to interpret it with help from Will Storr’s (2019) The Science of Storytelling, Molly Andrews’ (2014) Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life, Louis Albrechts’ (2020) edited collection Planners in Politics, illustrative examples drawn from a few major European and American cities, and my own forthcoming book, Co-Crafting the Just City. I do not yet know what I will conclude, but my sense is that the spatial planners’ story is about to take a new turn with major consequences for American and European cities. This moment is not quite Stunde Null
(Zero Hour), as it was in 1945 Germany, but it is a new starting point for future action. 

This “Transatlantic Rust Belts” symposium aims to enable a “concerted transatlantic assessment of the complex work of imagining the past, the present and the future of postindustrial cities,” and to facilitate “a sustained conversation about the power and the possible pitfalls of scripting futures for and with urban communities.” In the spirit of contributing to this assessment and conversation, I plan to draw upon Beatrix Haselsberger’s (2017) Encounters in Planning Thought. This edited collection of autobiographies by 16 illustrious European and U. S. American scholars of spatial/urban planning tells a collective story about the birth, effects, and transformations of spatial/urban planning over the seven decades from the end of World War II to the mid-teens of the 21st Century. Insofar as the tale ends in 2014, readers are left wondering what will happen next, both to cities and to spatial planning. More important, what should happen next?

Landmarks of the industrial city today often display an aesthetics of decay and the obsolete. Once sites of leisure, mobility or production, they now work with a distinct logic of abstraction and nostalgia. Through their function, these landmarks used to symbolically merge the city with its people, thus also promising an embodiment of the city's importance. This promise, together with the landmark’s function, appear lost in the postindustrial city, often leaving ruins and pollution behind. The promise is replaced by a yearning for its return, which can reinforce old discriminatory and exclusionary structures along the lines of race and class, as well as environmental oblivion and capitalist exploitation. More and more, however, the renewed awareness for the importance of these landmarks motivates new iconic visions as well as material and mental refigurations to ensure a revaluation and long-lasting recovery of these sites and cities.

Industrial Nature | Industrial Culture – (Temporal) Refigurations of Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord
Juliane Borosch (Wayne State University/University of Duisburg-Essen)

Rescripting Buffalo's Concrete Atlantis
Conrad Kickert (University at Buffalo)

Figures of Urban Industrialization, Old and New

Barbara Buchenau (University of Duisburg-Essen)

The Detroit Beltline District
Diane van Buren/Ernest Zachary (Zachary & Associates)

Panel 1 Refiguring Industrial Landmarks

7:00 pm (CET) | 1:00 pm (EDT) | 10:00 am (PDT)

Panel 1

8:30 p.m. (CET) | 2:30 p.m. (EDT) | 11:30 a.m. (PDT)

Come join us digitally for some mingling, getting to know each other, interesting conversations, and optional drinks grouped around some of the topics we will be discussing in the next few days.

Thematic Round Tables

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