THE HAMBURG-ST.-PAULI-BRANDDIALECTIC - Examining Hamburg’s city branding approach and its effects on the local Red-Light-District

University essay from Malmö universitet/Kultur och samhälle

Abstract: “What is certain is that the question of […] re-making a landscape of prostitution in the city […] needs to be viewed as part of a changing, global discourse on the nature of contemporary cities” (Aalbers & Sabat 2012, p. 114). Prostitution – associated with well-known Red-Light Districts – has for a long time been seen as “a significant urban activity that relates to other economic and social functions of the city [and contributes] […] to the cognitive image of a city held by both residents and non-residents, even those who have never frequented them” (Ashworth, White & Winchester 1988, p. 201). It is therefore no surprise that within the neoliberal framework of inter-city competition, these once notorious districts, commonly associated with crime and violence, ascended into spaces of entertainment and consumption, neatly aligning with entrepreneurial city branding strategies. The Reeperbahn, Hamburg’s famous mile of sin, located within the district of St. Pauli is no exception to this rule. As a place traditionally located outside Hamburg’s social and physical city limits, it is nowadays frequented by thousands of tourists and party seekers, drawn in by the area’s myths and shady reputation (Khan 2012). Actively fostering the (economic) attractiveness of the so-called Kiez has long been part of Hamburg’s city politics and was reinforced with the creation of the Hamburg Brand Marketing Strategy in 2002, where the Entertainment Mile Reeperbahn alongside Hamburg’s Pulsating Scenes became two of the key success modules in branding the city. The repercussion this has had not only for the district and its inhabitants but specifically for the red-light industry has largely been understudied. This Master’s Thesis therefore, aims at studying the general effects of city branding, such as displacement and conflict over spatial uses in the face of Over-Tourism and re-development strategies. Looking at the specific case of the Reeperbahn, it closes the gap of the somewhat understudied effects of gentrification on St. Pauli’s unique culture. By interviewing different local stakeholders, conducting a broad literature review as well as undertaking field work, the Hamburg-St.-Pauli-Brand-Dialectic will be analyzed subsequently, showing, how the Hamburg Brand and the city as a whole have profited from St. Pauli’s reputation and what consequences this has had in turn for the district.

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