14 Dec 2007

The Open University begins Thinking Allowed

TX: BBC Radio 4, 4pm, 26 December

The Open University is beginning an exciting new broadcasting partnership with Thinking Allowed, the long-running research-based radio programme on BBC Radio 4 presented by Professor Laurie Taylor.

This is the first collaboration between The Open University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and BBC Radio 4.

The Open University will co-produce six episodes between now and August 2008.

Laurie Taylor said: "I am particularly pleased about the new partnership between Thinking Allowed and The Open University. In the radio programme we have always endeavoured to make the social sciences relevant and accessible to an audience with diverse backgrounds and experience.

"The distinguished history of social science at The Open University has always displayed a very similar concern. Joining forces should, therefore, be of great benefit to both listeners and students"

Professor Sophie Watson from the Open University’s Department of Sociology said: "This is an exciting collaboration between the OU Faculty of Social Sciences and Thinking Allowed. The first three programmes will look at cities which have a long history of division, and which are now in the process of being overcome through new initiatives involving architects, planners and social policy advisors.

"The programmes address a number of questions, the most important of which is how the past exerts pressure on the present and how different memories of a city can be represented and recorded.

"The final three programmes will involve discussions held at Open University residential schools between academics and politicians concerning key social research issues."

The first co-production is titled The Ghosts of Berlin and broadcasts at 4pm on Boxing Day.

Laurie Taylor says: "Berlin is a city of ghosts. It is haunted by memories of the Nazis, of the Stasi, of the Wall, of the Holocaust and of the SS. An enormous debate accompanies every monument that is erected; whenever a site of terror is discovered or destroyed there are protests on every side. It is a unique city to study the way in which the past exerts its influence on the present, and the limits of nationalism itself."

Berlin is haunted by histories: the twentieth century brought defeat in the First World War and the abdication and exile of the king; it brought a Nazi government and war with much of Europe and the devastation of the German capital. It then brought a division which left one half of the city in Communist control and the other half marooned in a foreign country.

Memories of these histories are carved into the infrastructure of modern Berlin. As the process of unification develops, what is remembered and what is forgotten, what is re-used and what is demolished, bedevils and divides the capital of Germany as it tries to position itself for a global future.

A legacy of Soviet war memorials dwarf the human scale of the housing estates of the edge of the city, as an international treaty prevents them being torn down. Arguments still rage over what should replace the East German Palace of the Republic and whether reinvention of a Prussian style of architecture does more than paper over the cracks of the past.

Ministries in the new capital have moved into some of Hitler’s grand buildings, but will chiselling the Eagles off Goering’s Air Ministry and fixing a glass portico over the entrance, be enough? The holocaust memorial; the Jewish museum; Hitler’s Bunker; the Stasi records; the ‘death strip’ on the East Side of the Wall…Which needs a memorial, and what should be left unmarked?

A classic sociological work, The Ghosts of Berlin by Brian Ladd documented the unique challenges for the changing Berlin in the late 1990s. Ten years on, in association with the Open University, Laurie Taylor returns to Berlin to update the story and discover how successful Berlin has been in taming or exorcising its unruly ghosts.

Laurie will be meeting Bruno Flierl, a former Urban Planner from the East of the City who believes the DDR is being airbrushed out of history. He will be talking to Professor Werner Sewing about the dangers of an attempt to rally the city round a common Prussian history and to Professor Lena Schulz-zur-Wisch about how memorials can paradoxically serve to isolate difficult memories so that cultures can forget.

Editor’s Notes

Thinking Allowed is an Open University/BBC co-production for BBC Radio 4.

The first co-production will be broadcast on Boxing Day at 4pm and repeated on Sunday 30 December just after the midnight news. The next five will be broadcast in 2008.

Series Producer for the BBC is Charlie Taylor. The Series Editor is Sharon Banoff. Executive Producer for The Open University is Emma De’Ath and The Open University Academic Adviser is Professor Sophie Watson.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for more than 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.


Related Courses and programmes from the Open University:-

- DD100 Introduction to the Social Sciences
- DD205 Living in a Globalised World
- DD201 Sociology and Society
- DD308 Making Social Worlds
- DD304 Understanding Cities

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