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Symbol of Reconciliation and Far-Right Stronghold?

PEGIDA, AfD, and Memory Culture in Dresden

Susanne Vees-Gulani


In the eastern German city of Dresden, populist and nativist far-right groups, such as the homegrown pegida and the AfD, enjoy particularly robust support among the population, even though Dresden is presented as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Many residents base their personal and social identity on Dresden's long-established narrative as an iconic baroque city that suffered an unparalleled loss and victimization in the 1945 Allied bombings, prior to its post-reunification revival. However, this narrative includes a blind spot about the Nazi context of the destruction, opening it up to various political appropriations from the gdr era to today. I suggest that the strength of the far right in Dresden is caused by a seamless linking of Dresden's perception as a victim due to cultural losses and the far right's fear of losing a unique German identity and homeland. As examples, I analyze discourse patterns of remembrance during the bombing anniversaries in 2015 and 2020.

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Tailoring Truth

Memory Construction and Whitewashing the Nazi Past from Below

Mikkel Dack


As part of the post-war denazification campaign, as many as 20 million Germans were screened for employment by Allied armies. Applicants were ordered to fill out political questionnaires (Fragebögen) and allowed to justify their membership in Nazi organizations in appended statements. This mandatory act of self-reflection has led to the accumulation of a massive archival repository, likely the largest collection of autobiographical writings about the Third Reich. This article interprets individual and family stories recorded in denazification documents and provides insight into how Germans chose to remember and internalize the National Socialist years. The Fragebogen allowed and even encouraged millions of respondents to rewrite their personal histories and to construct whitewashed identities and accompanying narratives to secure employment. Germans embraced the unique opportunity to cast themselves as resisters and victims of the Nazi regime. These identities remained with them after the dissolution of the denazification project and were carried forward into the post-occupation period.

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Transnational Intimacies and the Construction of the New Nation

Tunisia and France in the 1960s

Amy Kallander


This article examines love as a facet of nation building in constructions of modern womanhood and national identity in the 1950s and 1960s. In Tunisia and France, romantic love was evoked to define an urban, middle-class modernity in which the gender norms implicit in companionate marriage signaled a break with the past. These ideals were represented in fiction and women's magazines and elaborated in the novel genre of the advice column. Yet this celebration was interrupted by concern about “mixed marriage” and the rise of anti-immigrant discrimination targeting North Africans in France. Referring to race or religion, debates about interracial marriage in Tunisia and the sexual stereotyping of North African men in France reveal the continuity of colonialism's racial legacies upon postcolonial states. The idealization of marital choice as a testament to individual and national modernity was destabilized by transnational intimacies revealing the limits of the nation-state's liberatory promise to women.

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Undoing the Myth of Childhood Innocence in Gisela Elsner's Fliegeralarm

Susanne Baackmann


This article examines Gisela Elsner's 1989 novel Fliegeralarm in light of Helmut Kohl's politics of “normalization” and the Kriegskinder victimology that has recently gained traction. Fliegeralarm presents children as Hitler's willing executioners and categorically refutes the notion of “liberation” (from fascism) as justification for normalizing German national identity. The text questions the entire edifice upon which West and now united Germany's official memory culture is built. I argue that Elsner not only contests the concept of “historical innocence” but fundamentally refutes the possibility of an innocent historical subject position. Fliegeralarm provocatively casts remembering and childhood innocence as calculated performances that mirror the generational complicity of those born into a legacy of perpetration. It offers a prescient intervention in post-Wende discourses and rethinks childhood innocence along the lines of historical implication, that is, in dialectical tension with knowledge and denial, marked by the traffic between knowing and not knowing.

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Women's Lives in Colonial and Postcolonial Maghrib

Etty Terem


This introduction to the special issue highlights dominant approaches to the study of women's and gender history in colonial and postcolonial Maghrib. Moreover, it delineates the analytical agenda that frames our inquiry, and reviews the essays in this collection.

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Adoption : Les familles de la République

Sébastien Roux and Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

En avril 2013, au paroxysme des tensions qui entourent l'adoption de la loi Taubira, Frigide Barjot, cheffe de file de la Manif’ pour tous, menace François Hollande de « sang » si la loi pour le mariage homosexuel est adoptée par l'assemblée. Christine Boutin, égérie des catholiques traditionnalistes, parle de « guerre civile » dans des tweets vengeurs. En quelques mois, des centaines de milliers de personnes descendent dans les rues pour manifester et contre-manifester. Moins de quinze ans après l'adoption du Pacs, on invoque à nouveau la République intemporelle et les principes révolutionnaires. On parle, la gorge serrée, de Marianne qu'on trahit. Derrière chaque contrat ou chaque gamète, c'est l'ordre social qui se joue, la République qu'on menace, le symbolique qui tangue… Au début des années 2010, devant les caméras éberluées du monde entier, la France montre à nouveau la place singulière qu'occupent les questions familiales dans le débat public.

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Book Reviews

Thomas Klikauer, Norman Simms, Helge F. Jani, Bob Beatty, and Nicholas Lokker

Jay Julian Rosellini, The German New Right: AfD, PEGIDA and the Re-imagining of National Identity (London: C. Hurst, 2019).

Simon Bulmer and William E. Paterson, Germany and the European Union: Europe's Reluctant Hegemon? (London: Red Globe Press, 2019).

Susan Neiman, Learning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019).

Stephan Jaeger, The Second World War in the Twenty-First-Century Museum: From Narrative, Memory, and Experience to Experientiality (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020).

Robert M. Jarvis, Gambling under the Swastika: Casinos, Horse Racing, Lotteries, and Other Forms of Betting in Nazi Germany (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2019).

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Cécité partielle

Procédure d'adoption et colorblindness institutionnelle en France

Solène Brun


While France is largely considered a “colorblind” society, which hinders any public use of racial categories, this article explores the case of international procedure, arguing that it constitutes an exception to institutional colorblindness in the French context. Racial categories are not only explicitly used on a daily basis by adoption professionals, but their use is also officially encouraged, yet in an ambiguous way. In this regard, adoption procedures operate as a moment of color consciousness for many adoptive parents. By focusing on this particular case study, the article aims more generally to unpack the stakes of the taboo surrounding race in France.

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German Foreign Policy Rules for Action during the 2011 Libya Crisis

Hermann Kurthen


This article presents the conceptualization of fundamental foreign policy beliefs of 62 German decision-makers and experts from the executive branch, parliament, think tanks, media, and academia concerning the March 2011 un Security Council resolution on Libya. The actors’ perceptions were abductively inferred from qualitative interviews using the reconstructivist theoretical framework. Four types of respondents were identified: Realists, Normalizers, Traditionalists, and Pacifists. While they shared the general imperatives of military restraint, alliance solidarity, multilateralism, and upholding values, their specific partisan-ideological interpretation of the application of those rules for action in the case of Libya differed. Both Normalizers and Traditionalists perceived Germany's un vote abstention and non-participation in the nato-led intervention as a break with German foreign policy and a costly mistake, whereas the Realists and Pacifists were in support of the German center-right coalition government's policy of military restraint, although for very different reasons.

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The German Mountain Troops and Their Opponents, 1943 to the Present

Nathan Stoltzfus


The most significant World War II battle between Germans and Italians outside of Italy was the September 1943 battle for the Greek island of Cephalonia, ending in the post-battle execution by German Mountain Troops of thousands of Italian soldiers. The recent clash between two German groups over what happened illustrates ongoing disputes about guilt and responsibility—how governments, historians, and civilians mobilize facts to write history. The Mountain Troops’ Veterans Association, which has influenced official German memory of the war, used the Cephalonia case to reassert the myth of Wehrmacht innocence, contrary to opinion-shaping Wehrmacht exhibits of the 1990s. In 2010, the federal government, backing a German judicial decision, reasserted the Wehrmacht Myth, despite opposition from Rome, Athens, and an international association of activists, as reports on right-wing extremism in the German police, judiciary, and military have become increasingly prevalent.