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Gender Equality Office of Viadrina

Women's Places in Frankfurt (Oder) and in Słubice

frauenorte_ffo_190 ©Alina Hoyer

What traces have women left behind, how did they contribute to the city's history? Commemorative plaques, statues and street names in a public space remind of famous historical figures, most often of men. Male actors dominate the historiography up till today. Precious knowledge about the historical development of the city, and in particular about women's involvement and appropriation of the urban space, tend to sink into oblivion. Although women have been active participants in the shaping of the city at all times, it is considerably less likely for them to become part of the cityscape. In the past, exceptions were members of nobility, wives, daughters and sisters of distinguished men. Exclusion of women from various spheres of social life and the persistence of their underrepresentation and discrimination is reflected in the general invisibility of women in the public space. It is also important to remember that the efforts of many women cannot be fully reconstructed due to a poorer documentation of women's lives.

The student project 'FrauenOrte' (lit. Women's Places) aims to (re-)discover and bring attention to women and their role in the shaping of the city. In the fall semester 2014/15 14 women from 5 centuries have been selected for their contributions in political, scientific, social and cultural spheres. The identification of historical sites associated with these women attempts, on the one hand, to question the male-dominated remembrance as part of the cityscape, on the other hand, to broaden the culture of remembrance by including previously hidden perspectives.

Thus prepared city walking tour and the accompanying brochure were officially launched during the Brandenburg Women's Week in 2015. They were designed as a self-guided tour to set an individual out for a journey through the histories and activities of prominent women from Frankfurt (Oder) and Słubice.

The project 'FrauenOrte' builds on the existing places of remembrance for Ulrike von Kleist and Justine Siegemundin – both designed as part of a project of Brandenburg of the same name – and was expanded to a city walking tour within the practice seminar for students. No claim is made to comprehensiveness: the selection of women is purely a cross-section of different periods and areas of live. It should serve as an inspiration and an impetus for the recognition of historical female figures as part of the city's history, and for the (re-)discovery of further intriguing women.