Katja Kullmann

Raging Ruins - How Detroit Reinvents Itself

(German title: Rasende Ruinen)
ca. 90 pages
Katja Kullmann
Foto: Katja Kullmann
© Patrick Ohligschläger
Katja Kullmann, born 1970, is a writer of non-fiction, an essayist, and a journalist.

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English edition forthcoming


In fall 2011, Katja Kullmann visited Detroit and talked to a variety of its inhabitants: homeless people, city planners, academics, young creative artists and students, single mothers, musicians such as Mike Banks or voluntary service and welfare workers.

On the 90 pages of her new book, she sets the focus on the city of Detroit, MI and addresses a contemporary urban myth: the question of the survival or the dying of the former metropolis. Kullmann takes on Detroit’s mythical reputation as one of the most recession-ridden, abandoned and dangerous cities of the US and confronts it with a parallel myth: whether the present state of Detroit bears the potential and creativity for an urban Renaissance in the style of Berlin, Germany. She concludes that the answer is yes, Detroit might survive, but other than one might think. Alongside an insightful questioning of the benefits of economic liberalism, the gentrification of cities and a re-evaluation of the middle-classes, Kullmann poses socio-communal solidarity (“the new sexy”) as crucial for an urbanity that suits Detroit’s present.

Raging Ruins is a concise documentary that allows for a short pointed reading and that, due to its engagement in a contemporary socio-political debate that takes place in the US and Europe alike, addresses a wide audience, both academic and non-academic, and contributes to an understanding of the present. In spite of the seemingly grave topic – urban death and decay – Kullmann’s intense trip to Detroit produced an intelligent, witty and enjoyable book.


Book Trailer for Katja Kullmann's Raging Ruins: