The industrial past has become an inescapable and fundamental component of the identity of the Ruhr region. Throughout the twentieth century the Ruhr acquired a diverse public self-perception—incorporating multiculturalism, football, nationalism, urbanity, and nature—that was strongly imbued by images of the industrial past. Over recent decades, representations of the Ruhr’s industrial heritage have been driven by a desire to build the future of the region on a proud sense of its past. However, there have also been signs of an increasing touristification and commercialization of industrial heritage that is sometimes presented in a self-congratulatory way. Development of a critical “historical culture” involving the region’s industrial past therefore remains a constant challenge.

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