Uwe Baumann


Dissertation Project

Destination #spomenik. Curations of Difficult Heritage and Popular Representations of Decay

This dissertation project sheds light on how difficult heritage is shaped into destinations through contemporary media practices. How accesses and valences that result precisely from the popular interest in decay, vacancy and its aesthetics is in the foreground of the research interest. The subject of this study are monuments erected in the former Yugoslavia to commemorate Second World War events. In the course of the disintegration of the multi-ethnic state, many of its representative buildings and memorials became difficult heritage sites, experienced destruction and vandalism, or appeared underused and neglected for decades. It is precisely in this state that the modernist and brutalist monuments became a trending topic on the internet from around 2010, circulating ever since under the hashtag ‘Spomenik’. In Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, the term simply means monument, but it has inculcated itself in the international context as a recurring label for Yugoslav monuments, which have become popular destinations for niche tourism as their online popularity has increased.  Desolate condition combined with particular architectural design and a “dark” past have since made these architectures exceptional destinations for travel modes such as Urban Exploration and Dark Tourism. These practices of travel and aesthetics are linked to diverse curation projects, locally and internationally, that harness valences primarily formed through media practices for tourism development and the communication of history in relation to these buildings. The ethnography (on-site and digital) focuses on examples in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, in the spirit of critical heritage studies, explores in particular tensions that arise from this development: Who “owns” cultural heritage? How “should” it be represented? Are these places of remembrance merely commodified, de-contextualized and turned into a façade for tourist self-presentations, or is the development an expression of dynamic cultures of remembrance and cosmopolitan aestheticizations in a globally networked present?


Uwe Baumann worked as a research assistant in the departments for Eastern European History and German Literature at the University of Constance between 2017 and 2018, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, Constance, in 2016. For his master thesis, he undertook field research in South Tyrol, Italy, in 2017. His interdisciplinary master’s programme “Studies in European Culture” at the University of Constance included a semester at UC Berkeley (2016) as well as a research trip to Budapest and Szeged, Hungary, with IVDE Freiburg in 2016. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and History at the University of Freiburg in 2015, with an exchange semester at the University of Basel (EUCOR-programme). Throughout his studies, Uwe Baumann worked as a research assistant at IVDE Freiburg between 2014 and 2015, and as a teaching assistant at the University of Freiburg between 2013 and 2014. In 2014, he also attended the DAAD-Summer School “BiH between the East and the West” at the University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He is a PhD candidate within the research group “New Travel – New Media” since November 2018 and undertook his practical phase in the editorial department “travel and leisure” of the newspaper “Badische Zeitung” (Freiburg, 2020). 


  • Ein Museum des Verfalls. Aneignung von dissonant heritage in der italienischen Emilia-Romagna durch Praktiken der urban exploration, in: Sandmeier, Judith und Selitz, Lisa Marie (Hg.): Erbe – Ort – Prozess. Dimensionen des Historischen [Themenheft: Forum Stadt 49,1 (2022)], Stuttgart 2022, S. 40-50.
  • Baumann, Uwe (2020): “Past Future Concrete” revisited: Ex-Yugoslav monuments shaped as destinations via online image practices, in: Český lid 107, 469-492. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.21104/CL.2020.4.03
  • Baumann, Uwe (2020): Book Review: Bendix, Regina (2019): Culture and Value. Tourism, Heritage and Property, in: Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 116, 2; 308-310.
  • Baumann, Uwe: Die Jagd nach dem Verfall, in: Badische Zeitung (04.07.2020).
  • Reflections on the study stay in Berkeley on the blog “The Voyage Out” [MA programme “Studies in European Culture, University of Constance]. URL: http://www.kge-connected.com/author/uwe-baumann/
  • Baumann, Uwe (2016): Book Review: Eisch-Angus, Katharina et al. (Hg.) (2013): Böhmerwald – Šumava. Ethnographische Essays, in: Fendl, Elisabeth u.a. (Hg.): Jahrbuch für deutsche und osteuropäische Volkskunde 56. Münster/New York, p. 218-222.


  • Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. Prague (08.10.2022): Curating Destination ,Ex-Utopia‘ – Negotiating Dissonant Heritage in the Digital Age. Presentation at the conference “Critical Heritage Studies: Central European Perspectives” of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS).
  • Heritage Site „Waldlust“, Freudenstadt (15.07.2022): Wert durch Verfall? Kurationen kulturellen Erbes am Beispiel des ehemaligen Hotels Waldlust. Lecture within the Forum „Lost Place Waldlust“.
  • University of Göttingen (29.06.2022): Vernetzen. Verplaudern. Verstehen. Podcastproduktion zwischen Unterricht und Öffentlichkeit. Lecture with Damaris Müller and Gisela Zimmermann within the Colloquium of the Institute for Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology: ‚Uni und Gesellschaft – Vermittlungsformate und Public Anthropology‘.
  • London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (19.02.2022): Curating the Subversive. Aesthetics and Atmospheres of Abandonment as Resources to Commodify Dissonant Heritage Sites. Vortrag im Rahmen der int. Tagung “The Aesthetics of Decay: Creative Modes of Destruction”.

  • Eutiner Landesbibliothek (20.05.2021): Atmopshärische Destinationen. Online-Präsentation im Rahmen der Summer School „Reisen und Medien in Geschichte und Gegenwart“ mit Prof. Dr. Stephan Günzel und Prof. Dr. Michael Klemm.
  • University of Lucerne (13.04.2021): Der Elefant in der Ruine. Repräsentationen von Dissonant Heritage im Spiegel der Faszination am Verfall. Lecture at the Research Colloquium  of the Department of History.
  • University of Bamberg (27.11.2020): „Il museo diffuso“ – Aesthetics of Decay as part of the Valorization of Difficult Heritage in the Emilia-Romagna, Italy”. Lecture at the conference „ORT UND PROZESS. Verhandlungen von Erbe vom urbanen bis zum ländlichen Raum“ by Arbeitsbereich Denkmalpflege des Kompetenzzentrums für Denkmalwissenschaften und Denkmaltechnologien (KDWT) and Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege (BLfD).
  • Humboldt University Berlin (20.05.2020): The Tjentiste Memorial in Bosnia and Herzegovina in Instagram-representations. An example for aesthetic cosmopolitanism? Lecture at the Media & Digital Anthropology Lab (MeDiA Lab).
  • University of Freiburg (23.5.2019): „Fascinations of Decay“ as touristic Resources. How European Cultural Routes adopt Aesthetics of Urban Exploration for sustainable Tourism Development. Poster-presentation at the Conference „Touristifizierung urbaner Räume“ by AK Stadtzukünfte and AK Tourismusforschung (Human Geography).
  • University of Freiburg (10.5.2013): Architecture, Culture and Confrontation – The Hotel ‘Paradiso del Cevedaleas a Symbol of Fascist Italianisation in South Tyrol. (Workshop at the DGV student conference).

Media Representations

  • Bernhard, Dunja: Die Faszination des Morbiden. Der Freiburger Kulturanthropologe Uwe Baumann sprach in der Freudenstädter „Waldlust“ über Lost Places als neue Tourismusziele, in: Neckar-Chronik (20.07.2022).
  • Südwest-Presse: Lost Place und zugleich Denkmal, in: Neckar-Chronik (13.07.2022).
  • Baumann, Uwe: Wieso eine Regisseurin einen Film über das Sterben im Mittelmeer gedreht hat [Interview with Nathalie Borgers], in: fudder.de (23.09.2020). URL: https://fudder.de/wieso-eine-regisseurin-einen-film-ueber-das-sterben-im-mittelmeer-gedreht-hat–194744908.html
  • Baumann, Uwe: Gibt es nichts Besseres als den Urlaub? [Interview with Valentin Groebner], in: Badische Zeitung (06.09.2020).


  • Bachelor’s Course for the module  „Deepening of cultural anthropological concepts and theories“: „Ethnizität. Identitätsangebot – Konfliktpotential – ökonomische Ressource“ with Dr. Tilman Kasten, Winter Term 2022/2023.
  • Lost and Found: Materiality, Value and Transition [Excursion B.A. and M.A. Cultural Anthropology to Freudenstadt, 15.07.2022, together with Damaris Müller], Summer Term 2022.
  • Colloquium of the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology Freiburg: Feinfühlig. Digitale Kulturforschung im Gespräch mit… [Online-Course and Podcast, with Hannah Kanz, Damaris Müller, Ruth Weiand and Gisela Zimmermann; own episode: Urban Exploration, guest: Dr. Stephanie Herold, duration: 38 Min.], Summer Term 2021. URL:  https://www.kaee.uni-freiburg.de/sciencetopublic/feinfuehlig-das-institutskolloquium-fuer-die-ohren 
  • Bachelors Course for the module “Anthropology of space”: “Umstrittene Räume. Raumkulturforschung in der digitalisieren Welt”, Winter term 2020/2021.
  • Tutorial for the lecture “Methods of Qualitative Social Research” at the University of Freiburg, Summer terms 2014 and 2015.


  • International Society for Ethnology and Folklore / Société Internationale d´Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF)
  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft Empirische Kulturwissenschaften (dgekw) 
  • Gesellschaft für Europäische Ethnologie Freiburg (GEEF)