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PhD student Marcus Colla wins RHS' Alexander Prize

last modified Sep 05, 2018 03:55 PM

Congratulations to PhD student Marcus Colla) for winning the Royal History Society's prestigious Alexander Prize for 2018, for his article 'Prussian Palimpsests: Historic Architecture & Urban Spaces in East Germany, 1945-1961' published in Central European History.

The judges commented:

”This was an exceptional piece of work, on an arresting topic in contemporary history, deftly and elegantly handled and showing considerable analytic subtlety. The author examines the complex interaction of architecture, history and ideology in the political culture of the emerging German Democratic Republic, and considers the ways in which the past and its physical traces proceeded in inherent union with reflections about a future socialist Germany as the new state sought self-legitimation.

The treatment of historic architecture was an inherently divisive issue, even within the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), as not even a self-professed revolutionary regime could avoid the need to deal with the symbolic urban landscape it had inherited: through a number of case studies the author shows how the treatment of sites of memory considered in any way ‘Prussian’ (and therefore regressive) in fact varied substantially over time, and just how tenuous and contingent was the reciprocity of old and new in generating political legitimacy.

This article was a distinctive and distinguished piece of historical analysis, elegantly expressed and argued throughout."