The meaning of 1989 and the (dis)appearance of the German Democratic Republic

The meaning of 1989 and the (dis)appearance of the German Democratic Republic

29 novembre 2019, Cardiff


Thirty years on, the fall of the Berlin Wall still exercises the political imagination like few other events in recent history. This is not surprising given that ‘1989’ was arguably as great a caesura as the French Revolution of 1789. However, while the sequence of events leading to the fall of the Wall and the demise of Soviet communism has been well documented, the historical meaning of 1989 remains the subject of intense controversy.

There are good reasons to challenge both the prevalent understanding of 1989 as a triumph of free-market economics and liberal democracy and the attendant reading of East German history as a mere anteroom to 1989. Such interpretations not only eclipse an important historical experience that foreshadowed the economic slump of 2008; they also obscure the deep systemic roots of the ecological catastrophe unfolding in uncanny slow motion before our eyes. As with the revival of nostalgic visions for a post-capitalist future, such reductive readings of 1989 only perpetuate the binary logic of the Cold War.

This conference seeks to enhance our understanding of both the global historical significance of 1989 and the specific historical experience of the GDR. Bringing together researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds, the event features original contributions which seek to engage with the meaning of 1989 and which depart from now familiar and well-trodden paths.


09:00-09:15 – Welcome talk by conference organisers Heiko Feldner and Nick Hodgin

09:15-11:00 – SESSION A

Chair: Marc Schweissinger, Cardiff University

  • Heiko Feldner, Cardiff University – The Meaning of 1989
  • Michał Krzykawski, University of Silesia Katowice – 1989 or the Downfall of European Social Democracy: an Eastern-European Perspective
  • Evelyn Preuss, Yale University – 1989: The Meanings of a Revolution and the East German Legacy in Global Perspective

Coffee & tea

11:00-11:15 – SESSION B


Chair: Debbie Pinfold, University of Bristol

  • Nick Hodgin, Cardiff University – Telling Losers’ Stories: the Films of Andreas Dresen
  • Ernest Ženko, University of Primorska – Requiem for the Second World: the Political Unconscious in Wolfgang Becker’s ’Good Bye Lenin!’
  • Peter Thompson, University of Sheffield – The GDR, Class and the Primacy of Politics

13:00-14:00 – LUNCH BREAK


14:00-15:45 – SESSION C

Chair: Fabio Vighi, Cardiff University

  • Martin Brady, King’s College London – 1989 and Beyond: the Legacy of GDR New Music
  • Stephan Petzold, University of Leeds – Normalising Dissatisfaction: Popular Music in the late GDR and the Coming of the 1989 Revolution
  • David Clarke, Cardiff University – Making a Space for Ritual: GDR Regime Loyalists after the End of State Socialism

15:45-16:00 – Coffee & tea

16:00-17:45 – SESSION D

Chair: Conny Opitz, Cardiff University

  • Janine Ludwig, University of Bremen – Remembering unrealised ambition in forgotten literature of the Wende
  • Tom Hedley, Trinity College Dublin – Im Osten nichts Neues? Topologies of Continuity in Marc Bauder’s ‘Das System: Alles verstehen heißt alles verzeihen’
  • Jakub Szumski, Polish Academy of Sciences Warsaw/University of Jena – Ordinary Stasi: the Discovery of Corruption and the Fall of East German Socialism


Renseignements pratiques

Lieu : Owain Glyndwr, 10 St John’s Stret, Cardiff, CF10 1GL

Organisateurs : Heiko Feldner and Nick Hodgin (

Site Web de référence :


Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

Vous aimerez aussi...

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse e-mail ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *

Ce site utilise Akismet pour réduire les indésirables. En savoir plus sur comment les données de vos commentaires sont utilisées.

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search