Wende ohne Ende? Representing the East German revolution and transformation years
30th March – 1st April 2023, University of Leeds
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Peggy Piesche (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)
Christina Morina (University of Bielefeld)
While the events of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the official reunification of Germany retreat gradually into the past, their significant impact on questions of identity and belonging in Germany remains ever-present. In particular, for many people socialised or living in East Germany, the process of change and adaptation that began in 1989/90 is not yet over: the Wende is not a closed period of history but a complex and ongoing process that is simultaneously experienced and remembered. While the fall of the Wall and reunification are remembered each year and were celebrated with particular emphasis at their thirtieth anniversaries in 2019/2020, less public attention has been paid to observing and acknowledging the processes of adaptation and change that followed in the wake of these events and to the establishment of a collective memory of the Wende during the 1990s. A closer look at these changing social and cultural representations offers insights into the origins of the widespread dissatisfaction and alienation among East Germans that have fuelled, amongst other things, the rise of Far Right mentalities and radicalism since 2015.
In the UK, the post-1990 transformation of East Germany has recently become a reference point for politicians and media outlets discussing the government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda, but such references often reflect the view that, firstly, the Wende is concluded, and secondly, that economic performance indicators are the measure of success. Now more than ever, it is important to account for the wider and longer-term socio-cultural implications of the Wende that brought about fundamental change in the lives of millions of Germans.
The conference seeks to turn a critical gaze on the continuing impact of the Wende in German culture and society. The aim is to invite interdisciplinary discussions and initiate new lines of inquiry to explore . . . READ MORE