A musical undercurrent has long permeated German culture and intellectual life. For more than a century, theories and practices of folk, art, and classical music—variously understood both in their mutual interrelation and as entirely distinct
Popular Music in Postwar Germany at the Crossroads of the National and Transnational
Kirkland A. Fulk
In the German history of concepts, the era between 1760 and 1840 has been of special interest. The historian Reinhart Koselleck famously called this period a Sattelzeit , a time when not only cultural formations and social structures but also
This special issue sets out to examine aspects of German politics, philosophy,
and society through the multifaceted lens of cosmopolitanism. A complex
and contested concept, cosmopolitanism has particularly important
implications for the study of contemporary nation-states, as conventional
understandings of bounded territory and sovereignty are reassessed in the
context of globalization, migration and transnationalism. Accordingly, this
introduction aims to outline several key strands of cosmopolitan thought
with reference both to contemporary Germany and the wider global conjuncture,
in order to provide a conceptual framework for the articles that
follow. It begins by briefly placing cosmopolitanism in the context of the
evolving concepts of German Heimat (homeland) and nation, because contemporary
cosmopolitanism can only be fully understood in relation to
nationalism. It then looks at the relevance of methodological, political and
ethical cosmopolitanism for the study of nation-states today, before introducing
the five articles in the special issue.
John S. Brady and Sarah Elise Wiliarty
In December 1995, the Center for German and European Studies at
the University of California at Berkeley hosted the conference, “The
Postwar Transformation of Germany: Prosperity, Democracy, and
Nationhood.” During the proceedings and in the edited volume that
resulted, conference contributors explored the reasons for Germany’s
success in making the transition to a liberal democratic polity
supported by a rationalized national identity and a modern, dynamic
capitalist economy. In charting postwar Germany’s success, the contributors
weighed the relative contribution institutional, cultural, and
international variables made to the country’s transformation.
This special issue of German Politics and Society offers a retrospective look at
the German Citizenship Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, StAG), which passed in
1999 and came into force in 2000.1 The law was and continues to be understood
by many academics, policymakers, and lay commentators as constituting
a “paradigm shift” in German citizenship policy and, by extension,
prevailing conceptions of German nationhood. The introduction of the law
of territory (jus soli), in particular, was greeted as a welcome acknowledgement
of Germany’s de facto status as a modern immigration country. Children
born and raised in Germany would no longer be rendered permanent
foreigners as a consequence of the dominance of the law of descent (jus sanguinis)
in the Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (RuStAG), 1913. Proponents
assumed that the reduction of the residency requirement for naturalization
would also allow greater numbers of long settled immigrants to assume the
rights and privileges of German nationality. Just as importantly, Germany
would join the European mainstream as regarded citizenship policy. The
stigma associated with its traditionally ethnic conception of nationhood
would give way to a more positive, civic identity.
Jutta A. Helm
For more than a century, Germany has had a well-balanced system
of cities showcasing considerable variety in their social and physical
make-up. It has lacked spectacular global cities like New York,
Tokyo, or London. Instead, western cities include industrial cities
like those in the Rhine-Ruhr Valley and cities shaped by universities
and research (Göttingen or Freiburg), media and publishing (Hamburg),
culture and high-technology sectors (Munich), banking and
finance (Frankfurt/Main), wholesale trade and insurance (Cologne
and Düsseldorf), as well as government and administration (Berlin,
Bonn, and most state capitals). Dramatic social or economic crises
that generate debates about urban decline have not happened.
Thanks in part to effective urban governments, no German city has
come close to the near-collapse of American rustbelt cities during
the early 1980s, or the fiscal meltdown of New York City in the
1970s. Crime has been consistently lower and less violent, and the
American racial divide has no equivalent in German cities. East German
cities, while more unevenly developed, have been no less stable.
East Berlin was the dominant center, linked to the industrial
cities in the North (Rostock) and South (Leipzig, Halle, Dresden) by
a rather creaky infrastructure.
The Élysée Treaty turned fifty on 22 January 2013—signed in 1963
between France and Germany, under the watchful eyes of French President
Charles de Gaulle and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
Although celebrated every decade, this particular anniversary comes at a
crucial time in the countries’ bilateral relationship. After a few tumultuous
years of disagreement and distance between Paris and Berlin over serious
economic and foreign policy issues, German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and French President François Hollande have seized the opportunity of
the year-long anniversary calendar to work on political rapprochement, in
the spirit of one of the original purposes of the Treaty itself.
The year 2011 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the bilateral recruitment
agreement that the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) signed with
the Republic of Turkey in 1961. According to official figures, the immigrant
group with roots in Turkey and its offspring make the second largest
group currently after ethnic German emigrants (resettlers) in Germany.
Understanding this migration experience and the broader issues of immigration
in Germany is the motivation behind this special issue.
Eric Langenbacher and Friederike Eigler
Is "memory fatigue" setting in? One often hears this question in regards to Germans whenever another Holocaust-centered or Nazi era memory event erupts. But, one also increasingly hears this question about intellectuals and scholars in the humanities. Political scientists, lamentably, never really got into the study of memory in the first place. As an overly qualitative phenomenon the study of collective memory was impervious to dominant quantitative or rationalist methodologies in the discipline. Like culture more generally, it was considered either a default category or an irrelevant factor for the core of political analysis—interests and institutions—and was best left to the humanities or sociology. Others have argued that memory never really mattered at all for the vast majority of Germans who are interested in the consumerist present or for a proper understanding of the political system. At the most, it concerned only a small circle of the German elite and media such as the feuilleton section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Der Spiegel, and, certain German studies centers and journals in the USA.
Joanne Sayner, Isabelle Hertner, and Sarah Colvin
Anniversaries provide moments for taking stock. In the wake of the so-called Supergedenkjahr of 2014—the year of numerous significant commemorative events for Germany, including the fall of the Berlin Wall and of German unification—it seems particularly timely to engage with debates about what it means to be German. Such retrospection is now an established and widespread part of the German habitus, and the number of organized moments of contemplation—moments that say as much about the present as the past—has multiplied since unification. Within Germany and beyond, the question of what it means to be German is frequently being asked by those who want to define local, national and international agendas for the future and to redefine agendas of the past. Representing an individual, a community or a nation involves the construction of narratives and identities, a process now often informed by sophisticated understandings of image and audience, of beliefs and branding. In fact, the numerous facets that make up an image of “Germany” have, for the most part, been perceived affirmatively; in recent international polls Germany has been the country seen as most likely to have an overwhelmingly positive influence on the world.