Heritage and the Reconceptualization of the Postwar European City

G.J. Ashworth and Brian Graham

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Heritage and the Reconceptualization of the Postwar European City

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  • History
  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)


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Despite their marked differences, Belfast and Berlin demonstrate a trait that, since the mid-1970s, has become a defining characteristic of European cities, namely the repositioning of the contemporary urban area through representations of its past. This is the most recent stage in the genesis of postwar European cities which, since 1945, have undergone an as yet incomplete process of radical restructuring that has changed not merely the outward physical appearance of morphologies, buildings, and spaces, but, more fundamentally, the ways in which cities are used and, ultimately, their meanings for those who use them. Urban landscapes constitute a powerful economic resource in that the European city has become a keystone in cultural tourism while the historically referenced landscape is also used to ‘sell’ places. This article explores how cities in Europe have been reconceptualised since 1945, not just as places to live and work, but as sites of memory and culture. The discussion is framed through the lens of heritage.

Keywords: Europe; cities; heritage; culture; memory; cultural tourism; urban landscapes

Article.  8992 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945)

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