Habitat Unit

March 16-17, 2017 | TU Berlin 

Urban Heritage Activism

Simulizi Mijini/Urban Narratives is an interdisciplinary inquiry into urban heritage in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Berlin, Germany. Through artist residencies, student exchanges and discursive events, the project has developed a more inclusive approach to urban heritage –embracing multiple voices and supports diverse readings of urban environments from a ‘bottom-up’ perspective (also called ‘from below). Two summer schools, 10 artist residencies and a symposium in Dar es Salaam have already taken place to start discussing the topic, and unprecedented bridges have been created between the two cities: by connecting contemporary cultural actors, and by proposing a re-reading of shared urban histories.

Simulizi Mijini culminates with a two-day international conference at the TU Berlin (16-17 March 2017) and a companion exhibition at ZKU (17-26 March 2017), along with other cultural events (tours, magazine launches, workshops).

The Berlin conference will focus on heritage ‘from below’ – urban history as it is lived, represented and transformed by local communities in diverse geographical and cultural contexts. Speakers will address political ramifications and power struggles related to heritage; they will introduce the failures and solutions of various activism projects, especially in postcolonial contexts, and will debate contemporary tensions and future strategies for interventions, through two roundtable discussions at the end of each day. Many of the guests organise grassroots movements around the world, demanding a more inclusive approach to heritage, redefining how places in the built environment are valued and preserved. From this standpoint, the role of research and scholarship must be questioned as well.

Rather than convening an academic event, the conference will create a multidisciplinary platform for activists, scholars, artists, cultural producers, students and local residents to debate urban heritage, present innovative approaches and put forward inclusive solutions.


March 16 - 17, 2017 
TU Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 16-18
10623 Berlin