I am currently developing my PhD thesis, which was titled Cyborg imaginations: nature, technology, and urban space in West Berlin, into a book manuscript. My book project examines the cultural and material particularities of West Berlin as a walled-in enclave from 1961 to 1989. Drawing on oral history, archives, and ethnographic observations, I explore the forgotten history of the island city as an experimental space. Case studies include modernist experiments with sound in Hans Scharoun’s Philharmonie, the city’s extensive Brachen (waste spaces) and their scientific and cultural use by botanists, artists, writers, and others, and the enclave’s role as a radical intellectual island through the strong presence of feminist theory and a multi-faceted progressive local politics.
In my research on West Berlin, I have traced the feminist intellectual history of the cyborg metaphor and its links to socialist feminism and radical publishing culture in the island city. In 1984, sociologist Frigga Haug and the feminist editorial board of the radical journal Das Argument first published Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg manifesto” in German, which placed them in the vanguard of critical discussions on the intersections of nature, the body and technology. I am currently continuing my work on the historiography of scientific metaphors and their use in geography by drawing on contemporary feminist research, especially in Germany, which has begun to unravel the theoretical and political implications posed by new forms of human subjectivity.
My research on the corporeal dimensions to urban space and the sensory experience of space places a particular focus on sound. In my work on the interdisciplinary terrain of “acoustic ecology” I develop a historically and geographically grounded idea of sonic space by drawing on multi-faceted forms of acoustic experimentation in architecture, landscape design, and the visual arts.
My interest in acoustic spaces has led me to use sound recording as a tool for conducting and presenting my research (alongside visual materials). I work with audio documentation to explore the acoustic qualities of urban spaces, such as wastelands and parks.
As part of the ERC-funded project Rethinking Urban Nature, I am currently working as assistant director of the feature-length documentary film, directed by Matthew Gandy, on the history of urban nature in postwar Berlin.
In 2009, I initiated the postgraduate research network ‘Stadtkolloquium’ at the UCL Urban Laboratory. Stadtkolloquium aims to encourage the dissemination and discussion of PhD level urban research in a friendly and constructive atmosphere by providing open and informal outlets in which to air theoretical, practical and methodological questions and issues among peer PhD students across departments and universities. Besides organising and hosting annual workshop events Stadtkolloquium also runs individual colloquia and feedback sessions, hosts reading groups, encourages the sharing of event details and reference materials and aims to foster collaborative projects. Stadtkolloquium warmly welcomes the involvement of research students from London, UK and international institutions besides UCL and strongly encourages their participation. For more information about forthcoming colloquia and events please visit the Stadtkolloquium website at www.stadtkolloquium.co.uk.