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The Migrating City

Szczecin is a city which lies near the border between Poland and Germany. In 1871, as "Stettin," it became part of the German Empire. After World War II, it was transferred to Poland, and transformed from a German into a Polish city. The German population fled, or were evacuated. Settlers from Central Poland moved to Szczecin, as a result of government policy; and soon made up about 70% of the new population.

It is not simply a city composed of migrants and the descendants of migrants ...

Rather, the city itself has been the object of "forced migration" and displacement from one country to another, as a result of geopolitical changes through time. The buildings and institutions, the very name of the city, have themselves "migrated," changing in their meaning and identity.


As part of the “Breaking Down Barriers” project, Collegium Balticum (in conjunction with the Szczecin Cultural Incubator project, INKU), has been working with groups of young people in schools and colleges in Szczecin, encouraging them to collect migration stories and experiences from relatives and friends; and to capture them in different forms – through short videos, using digital storytelling, drama, etc.   

The result has not simply been an exploration of the “cultural memory” of a city; but also, a way for the participants themselves to examine their own relationship to the city, its buildings and spaces, and history; and to recognise that identity, and a sense of belonging, emerge through a continual process of negotiation and interaction between people and their environment, as well as their past.


In this video, you can see project coordinators Beata Mintus and Marta Wylegała talking about “Szczecin: The Migrating City” at the international conference, “The Universe(s) of Refugees: Rethinking Forced Migration” (Lisbon 2019).

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