Constructing Identity – Kaliningrad and the Appropriation of Place

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Jamie Freeman

University of East Anglia (UEA), Norwich

September 5, 2018 / 4.00 pm

In 1945, the Red Army marched into Königsberg, beginning the process of it becoming the Soviet city of Kaliningrad. Seventy years later, the contemporary resonance surrounding Russia’s sphere of influence, coupled with the recent centenary of the Russian revolution, has led to a renewed interest in Soviet studies. Yet Kaliningrad remains largely unexplored, and virtually unknown outside a narrow field of specialists. My paper will consider critically how Soviet manipulation of public space was employed in an attempt to ease the complex transition of East Prussia from Königsberg into Kaliningrad. In a departure from current approaches in the field, it will examine the actual "spatial" aspects of this history. A key factor will be to analyse how Soviet city planners envisaged the city being "embodied" by its citizens – how they were to interact, engage and move within it – demonstrating that this was just as important as to what the built space itself was supposed to represent in terms of its symbolism as the Soviet Union’s westernmost frontier.

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