Christoph Muth (Technische Universität Berlin)

The Rural Network of Villages as the New Administrative Node for the GDR Countryside.
From Ideological Vison to Lived Reality?

This paper presents the case study of the MODSCAPES Technische Universität Berlin team: the agricultural collectives (Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaften – LPGs) of the former German Democratic Republic in the southern Oderbruch.

The paper is divided into two parts: The first discusses the planning and socio-economic theory of the LPGs developed by the East German state, and the ensuing spatial manifestations of these production—and eventually, settlement—schemes. The ruling Socialist Unity Party called for a radical modernization of the agricultural sector through the use of new technologies and increased production scales. Through the collectivization and amelioration of privately-held land, vast tracts of arable land were created. Networks of villages were arranged with housing, shopping, and cultural opportunities that would provide a new type of modern lifestyle, one aimed at equalizing urban and rural living conditions. Here, I highlight major differences between the planned vision and the lived reality of these rural networks.

The second section analyzes the post-Reunification development (1990), focusing on the former model LPG “Einheit” based in Golzow, Brandenburg: I examine the legal procedures guiding the economic transition from socialism to capitalism, as part of the German Reunification (and inclusion in the European Community). I argue that in this period, agricultural production has grown even larger in scale through new waves of modernization processes (automated farming, production outsourcing, etc.); and most significantly, that this subsequent wave of technological modernization capitalizes on the spatial legacy of the LPG. In other words: the expanses of land created by the LPG literally and figuratively “laid the groundwork” necessary for contemporary modes of automated agricultural production. Meanwhile, the surviving physical structures of the GDR-era are partially being re-appropriated and re-used for smaller commercial and communal uses, reflecting the changing social and economic character in the region.

Full-text available here (co-authored with Vittoria Capresi and Emily Bereskin): HTTPS://DOI.ORG/10.1051/SHSCONF/20196302004