Programme: Cultural Studies - PhD

Start date: September 2014

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: 1968 in West Berlin: Space, Place and Identity

Laura Bowie holds an MA, First Class with Joint Honours in Architectural History and Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and an MA, with Distinction, in European History from Newcastle University (NU). She is currently a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at the University of Edinburgh, where she was awarded the Principle’s Career Development Scholarship. She has taught both Architectural History and Architectural Theory at UoE, her research has been presented at conferences and published in journals and she has been awarded a DAAD language grant and the Barrie Wilson Award for excellence in first year PhD studies. Concurrently with her studies at the UoE, Laura has co-organised the SAHGB Student Research Forum and the 14th Architecture and Humanities Research Association Annual Research Student Symposium, and is involved in the student-led seminar series Prokalo as well as the department’s journal, Edinburgh Architecture Research.

Laura's research interests include:

  • city and protest
  • radicalisation of urban space
  • use of memory as an exploratory tool
  • architecture as a political device

Research title

1968 in West Berlin: Space, Place and Identity


This thesis focuses on West Berlin during the global student movement of 1968, with particular focus on the politicisation of urban space. Berlin’s turbulent history has had a profound impact on the identity of the city and its inhabitants. Therefore, within the walled city, the student movement had a unique character. A methodology based in spatial and city theory will be used to analyse the symbiotic relationship the movement and its followers had with the city, in terms of identity and ideology. Literature has tended to focus on the development from protest to terror in the late 1970s, or on global and continental perspectives. Recent publications have shown an increasing trend towards memory studies and literary analysis. In contrast, this thesis will offer a pointed analysis of urban place and the effects the uniqueness of the city had on the identity of the protest movement. 

The argument will be centred on the manifesto of architecture students at the Technical University published in 1968. The students formed a group, Aktion 507, which critiqued the urban planning of the city which they used to exemplify the issues they saw within their society. Each chapter will focus on a particular element highlighted within the manifesto and investigate further the arguments propagated by the student movement. Cultural outputs of the movement will also be woven into the text indicating how the students’ relationship to the city was expressed in this sphere. The key sources for the proposal are archival and will vary from police reports, political reports, photographs, as well as pamphlets and leaflets distributed by demonstrators. I will then supplement this with interviews I intend to conduct with former members of Aktion 507 in order to elucidate the significance of urban space to the identity of the movement.


Journal articles

  • 'Protest and Marginalised Urban Space: 1968 in West Berlin', Studies in History and Theory of Architecture, Vol. 4, (December 2016): Marginalia: Architectures of Uncertain Margins, pp.  225-240. [url]
  • 'The Rote Armee Fraktion: Memory and the Construction of Art, Film and Literature', eSharp: University of Glasgow Post Graduate Journal, Issue‌ 20, (Spring 2013): New Horizons, 1-18. [url]
  • 'The Impact of World War Two on the Individual and Collective Memory of Germany & Its Citizens', Postgraduate Forum E-Journal, Remembrance and Memory, Issue 9, (2012): Remembrance and Memory, 1-17. [url]

 Online articles

  • 'Markisches Viertel, Berlin: "Social Housing, Hasten the Agony"', The Column, August 2015, available here:


  • 'Meeting of Minds at the Old College: Conference Review', The Architectural Historian, Issue 1, (June 2015), 22. [url]

 Conference presentations

  • [forthcoming] 'Mass-Housing, Urban Space, and Conflict: 1968 in West Berlin', in Society of Architectural Historians 70th Annual International Conference (Glasgow, 7-11 June 2017). [url]
  • 'Urban Space, Politicised: 1968 in West Berlin', in Urban Social Movements, Protest and Advocacy Master Class with Margit Mayer (Global Justice Academy, University of Edinburgh, 29 March 2017).
  • 'Books and Protest: 1968 in West Berlin', in Books and the City Symposium (Maastricht University and Van Eyck Academie, 22-24 June 2016). [url]
  • 'Coloured Architecture: Democratic or Oppressive? 1968 in West Berlin', in GTA Workshop 'Europe and its Limits' (ETH Zurich, 31 May-1 June 2016). [url]
  • ​'Protest as Analytical Tool: 1968 in West Berlin', in PGR Seminar with Professor Barry Bergdoll (University of Edinburgh, 5 November 2015).
  • '1968 in West Berlin: Research Development at the 1st Year Review Stage' in ESALA PG Research Skills Seminar, (University of Edinburgh, 5 October 2015).
  • 'Space, Place and Identity: 1968 in West Berlin', in First Year Review Conference (University of Edinburgh, 10-11 September 2015).
  • 'Urban Berlin - Memories of a City', in Stadtkolloquium 2015 Annual Workshop (UCL, London, 30-31 March 2015) [url].
  • 'The City as Text: 1968 in West Berlin', in institutions: History Lab Annual Conference (IHR, London, 12-13 June 2013) [url].
  • 'The Spatial Dimensions of Protest: 1968 in West Berlin', in Arguing the Establishment: Obedience and Resistance since 1450 (Durham University, 23 May 2013).


  • 'Space, Place and Identity: 1968 in West Berlin' in 10th Annual PGF Conference (Newcastle University, 24 May 2013).