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.
Burdens of Eternity?: Heritage, Identity, and the “Great Transition” in the Ruhr
Stefan Berger is professor of social history and director of the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr University Bochum. He is also honorary professor at Cardiff University and executive chair of the Foundation History of the Ruhr.
Stefan Berger, Christian Wicke, Jana Golombek; Burdens of Eternity?: Heritage, Identity, and the “Great Transition” in the Ruhr. The Public Historian 1 November 2017; 39 (4): 21–43. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2017.39.4.21
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