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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.

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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.

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Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.

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Sounds German?

Popular Music in Postwar Germany at the Crossroads of the National and Transnational

Kirkland A. Fulk

—have anchored definitions of German national identity and the German cultural heritage. 1 More recently, musical styles such as jazz, rock and roll, and hip-hop have also played a key role in the emergence of new social movements and alternative sensibilities

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Edited by Raili Marling

of social control. This volume of Aspasia also publishes two articles outside of this thematic section that both touch on topical themes related to the construction of national identity. Anđelko Vlašić tackles the representation of the status of

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Introduction

Pegida as a European Far-Right Populist Movement

Helga Druxes and Patricia Anne Simpson

emergence of the Republikaner in the 1980s. 6 Ellinas identifies a general, Western European shift from materialist-oriented political issues toward national identity as an embattled category and as the primary territory of the far right. He writes: The

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Romanticizing Difference

Identities in Transformation after World War I

Nadia Malinovich

critical role that essentialist ideas about the relationship between language and national identity played in determining new political boundaries in Europe after World War I. The notion that a language represents the “soul” or volksgeist of a nation

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Sharon A. Kowalsky

national identity. Despoina Tsourgianni's article shifts the focus to representations of female identity through an exploration of the photographs and self-portraits of the Greek diaspora artist Thaleia Flora-Caravia (1871–1960). Analyzing the self

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Introduction

Textbooks in Periods of Political Transition after the Second World War

Kira Mahamud Angulo and Anna Ascenzi

special role that education has played historically in the civil and political evolution of countries, thanks to its extraordinary potential to further (among other things) the construction of national identity and the promotion of democratic citizenship

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Educating the Other

Foreign Governesses in Wallachia in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century

Nicoleta Roman

an individual and institutional level, in the creation of Romanian national identity. But, more notably, this study highlights the importance of these women in the development of class identities, as they were crucial social agents in the cultural