UWB Crest

After the Wall

AHRC logo

Bangor University

Bristol University logo

Network Conference

Remembering and Rethinking the GDR: Multiple Perspectives and Plural Authenticities?

8-10 September 2010, Bangor University

The AHRC-funded phase of the network culminated in a three day international conference in Bangor, which maintained the interdisciplinary nature of the network, with speakers from a wide range of fields, including literary studies, film studies, anthropology, political science, history, museum studies, photography and fine art.

We were extremely pleased to welcome three keynote speakers:

Dr Patricia Hogwood (Westminster): 'Selective memory: channeling the past inpost-GDR society' [download slides here]

Professor Bill Niven (Nottingham Trent): 'Flight and Expulsion in East Germany: A Case of Marginalisation and Taboo?' [download talk here] Please note that a final version of this paper is now published in German Life and Letters 65/2 (April 2012), pp. 216-36

Dr Axel Klausmeier (Stiftung Berliner Mauer): 'Die Erweiterung der Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer an der Bernauer Straße – Neue Wege des staatlichen Erinnerns und Gedenkens' [download slides here] [download text here]

We also enjoyed an evening film showing of Pamela Meyer-Arndt's documentary film Ostfotografinnen, and were delighted to welcome the writer Kathrin Gerlof, who read from her latest work, Alle Zeit.


See full programme below, or download a pdf of the conference programme.

Abstracts and key questions provided by speakers may also be downloaded here: conference abstracts

Call for Papers

Download here

Round Table - Summary of Discussions

On the last day of the conference, a Round Table was held in order to reflect upon the issues raised during the conference, and to allow for general discussion. A detailed summary of this session may be downloaded here, with comments from panel members (Dr Patricia Hogwood, Prof Bill Niven, Prof Mike Dennis, Dr Astrid Köhler, Prof Dennis Tate) and contributions from conference delegates.

Informal Forum - Report

At the end of the conference, an Informal Forum allowed delegates to discuss possible ways forward for the Network. A number of suggestions were made in order to extend the life of the Network beyond the initial funded period. A report of this session may be downloaded here: forum report.

Conference/Network Publication

A selection of papers will be published in an edited volume. The aim is to produce a focused volume which reflects the discussions not only from the conference but also from the work of the network as a whole; papers which are to be considered for the volume will thus be expected to engage with theoretical questions of memory.

Wednesday 8 September

12.00 onwards

Arrival and registration





Patricia Hogwood (Westminster): Selective memory: channelling the past in post-GDR society.




Parallel Sessions

Panel 1

Narratives of Oppression: Remembering the Stasi


Nadine Nowroth (Trinity College Dublin): Trauma und autobiographisches Schreiben – der Sprachlosigkeit Worte geben

Sara Jones (Bristol): Community and Genre: Autobiographical Rememberings of Stasi Oppression

Annie Ring (Cambridge): Double-Agents: Narratives of Complicity and In-Security in Literature Remembering the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit

Panel 2

Representing the GDR as a ‘durchherrschte Gesellschaft’?


Mark Allinson (Bristol): Leben in der Truppe: Reported, Represented, Remembered

Mike Dennis (Wolverhampton): Remembering to Forget: Elite Sport, Doping and Contesting the Past

Anne-Marie Pailhès (Paris Ouest Nanterre): Die Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft: Versuch einer Sicht von unten

Panel 3

The Future of the GDR


Catherine Moir (Sheffield): The ‘blaue Stunde’ and the Past and Future of the GDR

Claire Hyland (Bath): ‘Ostalgie passt nicht’: Individual interpretations of and interaction with Ostalgie

Felix Ringel (Cambridge): The Future of GDR-Memory: Temporal Politics and Moral Education in an East German Shrinking City


Evening Meal


Film showing: Ostfotografinnen (dir. Pamela Meyer-Arndt), introduced by Matthew Shaul (UH Galleries)


Thursday 9 September


Parallel Sessions

Panel 4

Re-interpreting the Past for the Purposes of the Present?


Anselma Gallinat (Newcastle): Memory matters and contexts

David Clarke (Bath): From Welfarization to Heroicization: Compensating the Victims of Human Rights Abuses in the GDR

Chloe Paver (Exeter): Grauer Alltag versus bunte Produktwelt: Museums of GDR Life as Sites of Contradiction and Complexity

Panel 5

Identification and Identity


Geert Crauwels (Brussels): Die DDR lässt sich gut erzählen – oder die Rhetorik des Schweigens

Siobhan Finn (Western Australia): Classical Music, National Identity and Politics: Recollections of Everyday Life as a Musician in the GDR

Astrid Mignon Kirchhof (Humboldt, Berlin): ‘Wir lieben und gestalten unsere sozialistische Heimat’: Naturschutz in der DDR




Parallel Sessions

Panel 6

Public Narratives

Andrea Brait (Vienna): The GDR at the Museum – Between Academic Debate and ‘Ostalgia’

Rebecca Dolgoy (Montréal): Lingering and Fabricated Echoes of Mauerfall: The Problematic Practise of Re-creative Remembering

Gabriele Mueller (York University, Toronto): Re-Imaging the Niche: Visual Reconstructions of Private Spaces in the GDR

Panel 7

Young Narratives of the GDR

Katja Warchold (NUI Galway): Anstoß nehmen – wie sich junge ostdeutsche Autoren in ihren autobiographischen Texten mit dem öffentlichen Erinnern an die DDR auseinander setzen

Debbie Pinfold (Bristol): 'We weren't all Zonenkinder': Post-Wende accounts of growing up in the GDR

Juliane Schöneich (Osnabrück): ‘Literary transformations of the Wende in the work of ‘younger’ authors from the former GDR





Bill Niven (Nottingham Trent): Flight and Expulsion in East Germany: A Case of Marginalisation and Taboo?


Plenary: Memory in Practice

Axel Klausmeier (Stiftung Berliner Mauer): Die Erweiterung der Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer an der Bernauer Straße – Neue Wege des staatlichen Erinnerns und Gedenkens




Parallel Sessions

Panel 8

Autobiographical accounts of prominent personalities


Ute Hirsekorn (Nottingham): Dynamiken des autobiographischen Gedächtnisses in den autobiographischen Texten der DDR-Führungselite am Beispiel Günter Schabowskis “Gewendete” Ansichten – Von diktatorischer Herrschaftsgestalt zu psychopathischer Opfergestalt?

Joanne Sayner (Birmingham): Reframing Antifascism: Greta Kuckhoff as Author, Commentator and Critic

Jeffrey Weiss (Mary Immaculate College Limerick): Multiple Voices: Polyphony as a Form of Remembrance in Jürgen Fuchs’s Magdalena

Panel 9

Memories of Key Dates


Dennis Tate (Bath): ‘Wenn ich versuche, mich zu erinnern, sehe ich nur die Fernsehbilder’ – The Iconic Images of November 1989 as a Hindrance to Literary Remembering

Alexandra Kaiser (Leipzig): ‘Wir waren Helden’ – Erinnerungen an den Herbst 1989

Richard Millington (Liverpool): ‘Helden ohne Ruhm’ or ‘abenteuerlustige Rowdys’? Remembering the protagnoists of the uprising of 17 June 1953 in the GDR

Panel 10

Questions of Authenticity


Silke Arnold-de Simine (Birkbeck): GDR Museums and Everyday Memory

Sybille Frank (Darmstadt): Competing for the Best Wall Memorial: The Contested Creation of an ‘Authentic’ Cold War Heritage in Berlin

Roswitha Skare (Tromsø): Film als authentisches Erinnerungsmedium? Authentizitätsstrategien in Das Leben der Anderen


Conference Dinner


Reading: Kathrin Gerlof (journalist, writer, author of Teuermanns Schweigen and Alle Zeit)


Friday 10 September


Parallel Sessions

Panel 11

Multiple Selves and Mythical Realities in Literary Texts

Francesco Aversa (Ferrara): “Eine Fantasie aus der Kategorie Atlantis”. Das Verschwundene und das Chthonische in der Post-DDR-Literatur

Elke Gilson (Ghent): Doppelgänger als Symptom einer Wahrnehmungs- und Erinnerungskrise in der Nachwendeliteratur, am Beispiel von Klaus Schlesingers Trug

Valeska Steinig: DDR-Kritik in Varianten fingiert-autobiografischer Erinnerungen nach 1990 am Beispiel Wolfgang Hilbigs und Monika Marons

Panel 12

On the Margins: Migration, Diaspora and the Outside View


Monika Durrer (Western Australia): 20 years on… Issues of migration, memory and identity for East Germans in Australia

Elaine Kelly (Edinburgh): Reflective nostalgia and diasporic memory: Composing East Germany after 1989

Paul O’Hanrahan (Liverpool): Identifying the Marginal: Hugo Hamilton's Berlin Novels, 1990-2008




Round Table / Discussion




Informal forum to discuss ways forward for the Network