Clara Oberle

Cultural Policy and Urban Space Distribution
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Department of History

Clara Oberle is currently finishing her dissertation entitled "Berlin 1945-1949: City in Transit - Spaces of Transit," in which she explores space allocation in the postwar metropolis. She focuses on railway stations and apartment housing as contested urban loci in a time of great population flux. Her research draws on municipal housing, transportation, and police records, on Allied housing and cultural office correspondence, on papers of Berlin cultural leagues, the works and exhibits of architects and urban planners, as well as on private letters and memoirs. Oberle's main interest lies in the overlap of socio-political engineering ideas, cultural policies, and the practice of urban space distribution. She studies the manner in which urban rubblescapes and the widely experienced postwar disorientation led to an acute yearning for order. Although they were concerned with temporary policies at first, Allies, German administrators, architects, and residents soon developed mutually influencing models on who was to be privileged, included, or excluded from the metropolis of the future. The models were contested on stages that ranged from Allied Control Council meetings to specialized urban planning journals, popular exhibits, and newly emerging academic institutions. This research on Berlin's postwar spatial reorganization debates and practices is part of Clara Oberle's long time interest in the post-catastrophe metropolis in international comparison.