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After the Wall

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Bangor University

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Network Aims

The way that the past is remembered, reconstructed and commemorated has become a major area of scholarship, across a range of disciplines, such as Cultural Studies, History, Anthropology, Politics, Media and Film Studies. There have been significant studies concerning remembrance of the Holocaust and the National Socialist past, particularly concerning concepts of ‘normalisation’ and ‘victimhood’. In contrast, however, such work on GDR remembrance remains in its infancy. The network will provide a forum for scholars from a variety of fields who are working on memories and representations of the GDR, allowing for novel interaction and the generation of new ideas.

The central aims are threefold:

1) to further understand the role of the GDR past in shaping contemporary Germany and the changing nature of east German distinctiveness (whether real or assumed);

2) to investigate the extent to which different art forms and remembrance projects condition the type of memory that is reconstructed;

3) to advance our theoretical understanding of collective memories.

The project also aims to set new research agendas, develop fresh postgraduate projects and encourage interaction with practitioners in the heritage sector, writers and artists. In the longer-term, this forum hopes to provide the basis for collaborative projects concerning the memory and remembrance of other dictatorships and periods of conflict, both in the post-socialist world and elsewhere, in order to test exploratory theses and theoretical understandings.

The findings of the network will be of interest to scholars working on German identities,  post-communist societies, and on memory in a wide variety of disciplines, as well as to those outside the academic community who are concerned with the practical considerations and aesthetics of GDR remembrance (notably the museum sector).

The network began in 2009 in order to benefit from and interact with numerous anniversary events due to take place in the UK and Germany to mark the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Continuing into 2010, however, it will crucially also facilitate reflection on these events, themselves important markers in the development of representation, memory and form.