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Remaking Berlin: A History of the City through Infrastructure, 1920-2020 (Infrastructures)

Remaking Berlin: A History of the City through Infrastructure, 1920-2020 (Infrastructures)

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Publication Date: September 29th, 2020
The MIT Press
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An examination of Berlin's turbulent history through the lens of its water and energy infrastructures.

In Remaking Berlin, Timothy Moss takes a novel perspective on Berlin's turbulent twentieth-century history, examining it through the lens of its water and energy infrastructures. He shows that, through a century of changing regimes, geopolitical interventions, and socioeconomic volatility, Berlin's networked urban infrastructures have acted as medium and manifestation of municipal, national, and international politics and policies. Moss traces the coevolution of Berlin and its infrastructure systems from the creation of Greater Berlin in 1920 to remunicipalization of services in 2020, encompassing democratic, fascist, and socialist regimes. Throughout, he explores the tension between obduracy and change in Berlin's infrastructures. Examining the choices made by utility managers, politicians, and government officials, Moss makes visible systems that we often take for granted.

Moss describes the reorganization of infrastructure systems to meet the needs of a new unitary city after Berlin's incorporation in 1920, and how utilities delivered on political promises; the insidious embedding of repression, racism, autarky, and militarization within the networked city under the Nazis; and the resilience of Berlin's infrastructures during wartime and political division. He examines East Berlin's socialist infrastructural ideal (and its under-resourced systems), West Berlin's insular existence (and its aspirations of system autarky), and reunified Berlin's privatization of utilities (subsequently challenged by social movements). Taking Berlin as an exemplar, Moss's account will inspire researchers to take a fresh look at urban infrastructure histories, offering new ways of conceptualizing the multiple temporalities and spatialities of the networked city.

About the Author

Timothy Moss is Senior Researcher at the Integrative Research Institute on Transformations of Human–Environment Systems at Humboldt University of Berlin.

Praise for Remaking Berlin: A History of the City through Infrastructure, 1920-2020 (Infrastructures)

"In this tour de force, Moss undertakes the vital work of unpacking the entwined histories of cities and infrastructure. Beautifully written, insightful, and thought-provoking in equal measure, Remaking Berlin provides a novel account of one of the world’s most iconic cities and a new way of looking at the way our worlds have been made through infrastructure. It will be essential reading for all those interested in both the past and future of our cities for a long time to come." – Professor Harriet Bulkeley, FBA, Durham University, UK, and Utrecht University, the Netherlands 

"This extraordinary book sets new standards for the study of urban infrastructure. With his meticulous combination of archival sources with insights derived from urban history, science and technology studies, and many other fields, Tim Moss has produced an exemplary addition to the literature on Berlin, and on modernity more generally." – Matthew Gandy, Professor of Geography, University of Cambridge 

"Remaking Berlin is a remarkable history of the city’s energy and water networks. Moss uses a rich trove of evidence to illustrate how urban technologies shape geopolitics, economics and culture." – Andrew Karvonen, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, author of Politics of Urban Runoff: Nature, Technology, and the Sustainable City 

"This engaging study provides an insightful account of a hundred years of infrastructure history of Berlin, a city constantly making and remaking itself. Timothy Moss gives a face and a voice to those who planned and built in the city." – Dolores L. Augustine, author of Red Prometheus: Engineering and Dictatorship in East Germany and Taking on Technocracy: Nuclear Power in Germany, 1945 to the Present