052-0724-20L  Soziology: Memories of Zurich West

SemesterSpring Semester 2020
LecturersS. Guinand, C. Schmid
Periodicityevery semester recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentThere is a limit of 30 students.


AbstractIn this research seminar, we will investigate the different—and sometimes opposing—tangible and intangible dimensions of memory. Taking the history of Zurich West as a case study, participants will conduct various qualitative methods and present their results in class.
ObjectiveThe aim of this course is to critically investigate and reconstruct memories of Zurich West by incorporating different actors’ subjective perspectives, as well as discourses on the area. Participants will also collect information on the tangible and intangible transformation processes of Zurich West. The results of the seminar will be presented in the form of a short booklet to be handed out and made available on the department’s website as an e-publication.

A further goal is to introduce participants to qualitative methodological tools. The class is framed to: 1) have students experiment with the challenges of qualitative methods while collecting data in situ; 2) become familiar with new dimensions of qualitative research while simultaneously developing a critical approach to these tools; and 3) devise new perspectives into their personal research project.
ContentThe research seminar engages with the notion of memory, which is intimately entangled with the notion of heritage. Memory can be expressed, on one hand, as all the tangible traces that remain in the built environment, as well as all the intangible dimensions associated with a specific object, environment, or moment. The area of Zurich West is particularly suitable for this exploratory investigation, as it has experienced different layers of transformations over the past several decades. It was the core industrial area for the greater Zurich region with varied forms of industrial production such as machines, turbines, soap, beer, and logistical facilities until the 1980s. It then turned into a meeting place for an alternative cultural milieu, with all sorts of venues and high hopes for innovative projects in regard to its future development. However, it then quickly turned into a “trendy” and luxury neighbourhood at the end of the 1990s, when public authorities designated it for real estate development.

In the research seminar this urban trajectory will be explored through the following aspects:
Where can memory be found? How is it expressed in the built environment? What do we know and learn? Are there missing elements? What is hidden? Is there a such a thing as “ordinary” memory? What is institutional (official) and what is not? What are the attributes of memory? Are there opposing memories? Should we speak of memories?

We will attempt to answer these questions by first looking at archival materials, undertaking photographic surveys, and then by conducting qualitative interviews with (former) residents, (former) users and local stakeholders—sometimes using the photo-elicitation technique.
Lecture notesNo script
LiteratureA syllabus with central texts will be handed out at the beginning of the semester.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course will be held in English. Participants must be able to speak and write in English.
The course is restricted to 30 students. Please send a motivation letter to Link until February 2020.