The GDR Today III

The GDR Today III

Bangor University, Bangor Wales
Bangor University, College Road, Bangor, Wales, LL57 2DG
United Kingdom
Vom - Bis
06.04.2017 - 07.04.2017
Stefanie Kreibich

Papers are invited for a two-day postgraduate colloquium focusing on the history and memory of GDR politics, culture and society. The event will be held at Bangor University, Wales, on 6-7 April 2017. Confirmed discussants are Dr Sara Jones (University of Birmingham), Dr Joanne Sayner (University of Birmingham), Dr Debbie Pinfold (University of Bristol) and Dr Anna Saunders (Bangor University).

With the passing of two major anniversaries of GDR commemoration in 2014 and 2015, the memory of former East Germany appears to be at a crossroads. Developments, such as the recommendation of a committee of German historians in April 2016 to gradually integrate the Stasi-files into the German Federal Archive and subsequently to dissolve the BStU, seem to show a political turn towards the normalisation of the GDR within German history. The first signs of this process appeared in 2008, when the German government decided to include the topic of everyday life in former East Germany into its federal concept for memorials, an idea hitherto rejected as belittling the oppressive nature of the socialist dictatorship. This change of paradigm resulted in the opening of the first state-founded museum pertaining to everyday life in the GDR, called Alltag in der DDR, at the Kulturbrauerei in Berlin in November 2013. In addition, the platform for memories of East Germany widens as new groups of agents and eyewitnesses take to the stage of commemoration. The children and teenagers of the Wende, the self-proclaimed Dritte Generation Ost are telling the story of transition from their perspective, and have made an impact particularly on contemporary Germany literature. Considering the progress made in recent years, the question now arises as to the future direction of GDR memory and research: where is it heading, and in which ways are we as scholars already contributing to a change of paradigm in GDR memory?

The workshop is the third in the series The GDR Today, which was launched in January 2014 at the University of Birmingham, and subsequently held in September 2015 at the University of Bristol. Both events brought together a range of postgraduate researchers from across Europe and North America. The papers presented in Birmingham and Bristol exhibited a wide range of fresh approaches to conceptualising the GDR and its legacy in contemporary Germany. They also showcased how research on both marginalised aspects and more central themes of GDR memory and culture can help to understand East Germany beyond established debates and thus provide new perspectives. The GDR Today III, jointly organised by the universities of Bangor, Birmingham and Bristol, aims to revisit the projects that were introduced in the two previous events and continue the fruitful discussions started in Birmingham and Bristol. We are keen to hear again from those who presented their work previously in the series, but also warmly invite new participants working on the GDR to present papers and join the debate. Like its predecessors, this symposium is designed as a forum for postgraduate researchers to discuss the state of scholarship on the GDR and identify areas for future research.

Questions that might be considered include, but are not limited to:

- How is the GDR still relevant to research 26 years after unification?
- How can particular aspects of East German history and culture contribute to an understanding of the GDR as a whole?
- What patterns can be identified in the memory debates of the last twenty-five years, and how have these shaped our views of the GDR?
- How has the way we research the GDR changed over time?
- What place does the GDR have in European history of the 20th century?

We invite proposals for papers of no more than 15 minutes examining any area of the history, memory or culture of the GDR, including film, literature, museums, politics and the built environment. Students may choose to present an overview of their thesis as a whole, or an aspect of it on which they would particularly like feedback. The colloquium will start around noon on 6 April and end in the afternoon of 7 April 2017. A conference dinner is planned for the evening of the first day. Both the colloquium and the dinner will be funded, and the costs for participants will therefore be kept at an absolute minimum. However, we are unable to contribute to the funding of travel or accommodation costs. Places for participants will be allocated on a competitive basis. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be submitted to by 31 August 2016.

Alexander Brown,
University of Birmingham
Department of Modern Languages / Institute of German Studies

Stefanie Kreibich,
Bangor University
School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Marlene Schrijnders,
University of Birmingham
Department of Modern Languages / Institute of German Studies



Stefanie Kreibich

School of Modern Language and Cultures, Bangor University, College Road
Bangor, Wales, LL57 2DG