Accepted paper:

When the future looked old: new social-cultural movements, and the re-scaling of an infrastructure in "Paradise" (Constance, 1960s-80s)


Johannes Mueske (Deutsches Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The ethnography investigates the quarrel about the “Paradise,” a neighborhood in Constance which has been the scene of successful protests against an over-dimensioned Autobahn. The conflict is a mirror of competing ideas about politics, the future of the environment, and dwelling in the city.

Paper long abstract:

Since the 1950s, in Germany economic growth and increasing motorization seemed to call for new large-scale infrastructure projects, i.e.: motorways, that would connect every city and town to the future. However, the high-flying plans sometimes were grounded by citizens who had differing plans for their cities. My paper presents a case study on the history of an infrastructure project in Constance (1960s-80s). Constance, a middle-sized city in the very southern periphery of Germany, was in need of a bypass road and second bridge over the Rhine to ease traffic problems. However, as will be outlined in the first chapter, protests came up in the 1970s and -80s, when national and provincial politics presented plans for a 6-lane Autobahn: The motorway would not only injure a nearby local leisure forest, but ignored that it would also cut through a city quarter, the "Paradise." Second, it will be asked for the actors and their conflicting goals and "modernities," e.g., a new understanding of political processes among the citizens' initiatives vs. classic top-down approaches of the local parliament. Third, it will be proposed to rather understand the "new social movements" as cultural endeavors. The movements were not driven by social concerns or the demand for political representation, but were initiated by middle class academic and creative milieux that wanted to elevate the quality of living, preserve heritages, and claimed direct political participation. My study is part of an ongoing research on political competition and it is based on archival work and qualitative interviews.

panel Sui03
Clashing scales of infrastructural development