This article analyzes the evolution of sexual politics and cultures in post-unification Germany, tracing these through three stages. First is the more immediate aftermath, in the early to mid 1990s, of ostalgische consternation over the loss of what Easterners understood to be the special qualities of GDR sexual culture, analyzing this consternation in the context of the—mutually conflicting—fantasies that Easterners and Westerners had about each other, replete with Easterners' ideas about how capitalism deforms interhuman interactions and Westerners' ideas about the deformations caused by totalitarian surveillance. A second stage runs from the mid 1990s through to the early twenty-first century, and includes both the convergence between East and West on the governmental policy level and the growing similarities identified in Easterners' and Westerners' sexual habits and mores. The third stage concerns the more recent past of the last five years and emphasizes the paradoxical coexistence of, on the one hand, strong commitment (on both the governmental and popular levels) to liberal values of individual sexual self-determination and toleration of diversity and a general sex-positive climate with, on the other, tremendous anxiety about the rise of European Islam (with its purportedly intrinsic hostility to both homosexuality and female sexual independence) and about the precipitous decline of the German birthrate. Attention is also paid to the newest policy directions with regard to adolescent sexuality and age of consent laws, abortion access, and disability rights.
In 1997, Hinrich Seeba offered a graduate seminar on Berlin at the University of California, Berkeley. He called it: "Cityscape: Berlin as Cultural Artifact in Literature, Art, Architecture, Academia." It was a true German studies course in its interdisciplinary and cultural anthropological approach to the topic: Berlin, to be analyzed as a "scape," a "view or picture of a scene," subject to the predilections of visual perception in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This course inspired my research on contemporary German history as represented in Berlin's Holocaust memorials. The number and diversity of these memorials has made this city into a laboratory of collective memory. Since the unification of East and West Germany in 1990, memorials in Berlin have become means to shape a new national identity via the history shared by both Germanys. In this article, I explore two particular memorials to show the tension between creating a collective, national identity, and representing the cultural and historical diversity of today's Germany. I compare the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, or "national Holocaust memorial") which opened in central Berlin on May 10, 2005, to the lesser known, privately sponsored, decentralized "stumbling stone" project by artist Gunter Demnig.
Abraham L. Newman
Since the end of World War II, scholars have attempted to make sense of Germany's insistent multilateralism. Many concluded that this sacrifice resulted from a deeply ingrained political identity that stressed international cooperation and shunned parochial national politics. More recently, however, German leadership has suggested a willingness to weaken its role as global altruist and reassert its interests in Europe and abroad. This article argues that core German attitudes towards regional and global cooperation have changed. But rather than a shift to "national self-interests," I argue that the unification process elevated long-held beliefs about policy conservatism and caution that now compete with the postwar multilateral policy frame within the foreign policy elite. In addition to the pro-European, multilateralist agenda, a second powerful lesson of the interwar period emphasized the dangers associated with sudden change and the benefits of incrementalism. Owing to the uncertainty associated with sociopolitical events, decision makers must rely on their beliefs about how the world works to guide their decisions. To explore the relationship between beliefs and Germany's regional policy, the paper examines the government's regional response to the post 2008 financial crisis and the banking crisis in Eastern Europe.
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.
An Analysis of the Enduring Political East-West Divide in Germany Thirty Years After the Wall's Fall
Germany continues to face an inter-regional political divide between the East and the West three decades after unification. Most strikingly, this divide is expressed in different party systems. The right-wing populist Alternative for Germany and the left-wing populist Left Party are considerably more successful in the eastern regions, while German centrist parties perform worse (and shrink faster at the ballot-box) than in the West. The article discusses empirical evidence of this resilient yet puzzling political divide and explores three main clusters of explanatory factors: The after-effects of the German Democratic Republic’s authoritarian past and its politico-cultural legacies, translating into distinct value cleavage configurations alongside significantly weaker institutional trust and more wide-spread skepticism towards democracy in the East; continuous, even if partly reduced inter-regional socioeconomic divisions and varying economic, social and political opportunities; and populist parties and movements acting as political entrepreneurs who construct and politically reinforce the East-West divide. It is argued that only the combination of these factors helps understand the depth and origins of the lasting divide.
Helmut Peitsch and Joanne Sayner
This article examines two chapters from Martin Sabrow's 2009 edited volume Erinnerungsorte der DDR, one on antifascism and one on Buchenwald. These two case studies exemplify the complexities of the contemporary German memorial landscape. In particular, they thematize the remembrance of the Nazi past in the German Democratic Republic and how this GDR past has, in turn, been tendentiously remembered since unification. By examining the layering of memories in these two chapters, we argue that the theoretical models which often underpin contemporary German memory work, Sabrow's volume included, serve to obscure the role of the state as carrier of official memory. On the basis of this study, we show that concepts dominant in today's Germany promote a unified national narrative. In particular, terms such as the “culture of memory” (Erinnerungskultur) and cultural memory (kulturelles Gedächtnis) downplay conflicting, contentious and diverse memories relating to the GDR past. As such, the article provides a timely note of caution for memory studies and memory work, which increasingly applies these models to wider, non-German contexts.
Revisiting the German Model
to a postwar high of 12 percent. For the years between 2001-2005, economic growth, having already slowed in the decade following unification in the 1990s, could generate only a feeble annual average rate of 0.7 percent GDP. Germany also repeatedly
Edward Berenson, Elinor Accampo, Joseph Bohling, and Michael Seidman
Union. Behind the façade of peace and the preservation of democracy lay sordid motives for unification: European cooperation was intended to help maintain Europe’s faltering empires. Racism and exploitation, the authors argue, more than a high
History Textbooks and Nation Building in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine
, northern Bukovina, and parts of Finland into the Soviet Union and unification of the Soviet people following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Reunification of western Belarus with Belarusian SSR and unification of the Belarusian people following the Molotov
Angela Merkel and the Challenges of Far-Right Populism
Joyce Marie Mushaben
Mitterrand, in exchange for the latter's unqualified acceptance of German unification. I contend that the AfD's virulent rhetoric, along with its xenophobic, anti-Islamic and anti-elite orientations mirror deeper systemic discontents, which the refugee