Marek Kohn lives in Brighton and is the author of nine widely acclaimed books, including The Race Gallery, Dope Girls and Four Words for Friend. Their themes include diversity, identity, nationalism, language and the social implications of scientific thought.
His latest, The Stories Old Towns Tell, describes the reconstruction of historic quarters in European cities, examining how they are shaped to tell particular stories about history and identity. It shows how old towns can promote belonging over exclusion, and empathy over indifference.
Raised from the Ruins: the editing and rewriting of Old Town in the heart of Europe
Historic urban quarters across the middle of Europe were devastated in World War 2, and reconstructed in different ways afterwards. They have been shaped to tell particular stories about identity and history, while obscuring or downplaying others. The process is still going on, conducted not just by planners and politicians but also by the crowds of visitors drawn to Old Towns that conjure up an imagined past.