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Narratives in the Making: Writing the East German Past in the Democratic Present

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Narratives in the Making

Writing the East German Past in the Democratic Present

Anselma Gallinat

242 pages, 3 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-302-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-303-3 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“…a fascinating and thoughtful ethnography of Eastern German government and media institutions and perspectives … which will interest advanced students and scholars in history, political science, anthropology, and media and cultural studies… The book succeeds as a carefully designed, balanced, and executed study, providing convincing evidence from multiple memory intermediaries.” • American Historical Review

“Gallinat suggests the importance of competing narratives, not to downplay the experience of suffering under the SED regime, but, by producing a more nuanced picture, to honor those who lived through it.” • German Studies Review

“This important and timely study offers fascinating insights into the behind-the-scenes production of public narratives. It makes a significant contribution not only to anthropological studies of socialism and post-socialism, but also to the exploration of these public discourses in museum studies and other disciplines.” • Sara Jones, University of Birmingham


Despite the three decades that have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the historical narrative of East Germany is hardly fixed in public memory, as German society continues to grapple with the legacies of the Cold War. This fascinating ethnography looks at two very different types of local institutions in one eastern German state that take divergent approaches to those legacies: while publicly funded organizations reliably cast the GDR as a dictatorship, a main regional newspaper offers a more ambivalent perspective colored by the experiences and concerns of its readers. As author Anselma Gallinat shows, such memory work—initially undertaken after fundamental regime change—inevitably shapes citizenship and democracy in the present.

Anselma Gallinat is a senior lecturer in anthropology at Newcastle University. She is the co-editor of The Ethnographic Self as Resource with Peter Collins (Berghahn 2013) and the author of numerous articles, which have appeared in Identities, Social Anthropology, and Ethnos, among others.

Subject: Postwar History General Anthropology
Area: Germany


Introduction: Questions of Discourse, Narrative and Memory after Fundamental Regime-Change

Chapter 1. Remembering East Germany in the United Nation – The Second German Dictatorship and Dual History
Chapter 2. Institutions that Write History – The Working Group Aufarbeitung and the Daily Paper Introduced
Chapter 3. Debating the Past at the Daily Paper – The East German Border Regime

Chapter 4. Ordering Memory for Government – Everyday Life in East Germany
Chapter 5. What Makes an Aufarbeiter, a Journalist?
Chapter 6. Democracy in Trouble – Remembering to Safeguard the Future
Chapter 7. Memory for Citizenship – the Trouble with Democracy

Concluding Remarks


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