The get-to-know: Silvia Berger Ziauddin

Silvia teaches contemporary history at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. She finished her Ph.D. with a thesis on the History of Bacteriology in Germany in the Wilhelmine era and Weimar Republic. Her book „Bakterien in Krieg und Frieden“, published 2009 by Wallstein (Göttingen), was awarded with the Henry E. Sigerist-Prize and the Förderpreis of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geschichte der Medizin, Naturwissenschaft und Technik. After fellowships and positions at the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich ETHZ, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the University of Basel, Silvia was appointed Assistant Professor (Oberassistentin) at Zurich University’s Department of History. In the academic year 2013/14 she was visiting research scholar at Columbia University in the City of New York (Department of History). In 2015 Silvia became Associate Member of the Center for the History of Knowledge at ETHZ/UZH; she is founding member of the center’s network ”Wissen und Kalter Krieg”.

Her research and teaching interests include the history of civil defense and disaster management in a transnational perspective, the underground and the vertical from the 19th-21st century, bunkers and defensive living, the history of knowledge in the atomic age, historical anthropology of space, body and emotion, the history of bacteriology and infectiology in the 19th and 20th century and the social and cultural history of World War I.

Silvia’s soon to be finished second book explores the social, scientific and cultural history of the architecture of survival in Cold War Switzerland and beyond.

More info about Silvia can be found here…

Selected articles of interest with regard to workshop theme:

(De-)Territorializing the Home. The Nuclear Bomb Shelter as a Malleable Site of Passage, in: Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, online first 12 November 2016, doi:10.1177/0263775816677551

This paper explores the worldwide unprecedented bunker infrastructure of Switzerland. Since the 1960s, the country has built hundreds of thousands of nuclear bomb shelters in family homes. Drawing on poststructural theories of social practice and ritual theory, the all-pervasive structures in the private sphere are analyzed as transitory spaces that coordinate the movement and connections between different milieus, regimes, and bodies. By studying the operational scripts of the authorities and the spatial arrangements and artifacts of the shelter, the paper argues that a sequenced set of “rites of passage” were to be practiced in order to guarantee a transition into the postapocalypse without any violations of norms, social roles, and affective regimes. However, this
“territorializing” process launched by the state with the aim of engineering a “bombproof” society met with little success. By ignoring, distorting, or violating the constant prewar situation in their homes, Swiss people, as early as in the 1970s, started to undermine the shelter as an instance of concrete governmentality. Being traversed by various processes of “deterritorialization” the bunker lost its function as a locus of secured passage and transformed into a highly dynamic “empty space” that hides, till this day, residua for creativity and difference.

Superpower Underground. Switzerland’s Rise to Global Bunker Expertise in the Atomic Age, in: Technology and Culture 4 (2017), forthcoming.

Überlebensinsel und Bordell. Zur Ambivalenz des Bunkers im atomaren Zeitalter”, in: Das Imaginäre des Kalten Krieges, eds. Sibylle Marti, David Eugster, Reihe: Frieden und Krieg. Beiträge zur historischen Friedensforschung, Essen: Klartext 2015, pp. 69-93.

Vom Tasten, Riechen, Hören und Sehen unter Grund. ”Sensory Politics” im Angesicht der nuklearen Apokalypse”, in: traverse, special issue ”Mit allen Sinnen/par tous les sens”, 2/2015, pp. 131-144.

Interviews with Silvia Berger Ziauddin on Civil Defense shelters (in German):

– Ein Bunker-Revival scheint nicht unmöglich, Tages Anzeiger online, 17.3.2011

– Reste des Krieges. Zürichs Doppelleben im Untergrund, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 23.10.2013

– Warum bauen die Schweizer soviele Bunker, Die Welt, 6.12.2013

– Luftschutzkeller in der Schweiz, SWR2 Matinee, 6.11.2016