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History and Politics

I Am Not Proud to be German: East German Identity and The Legacy of Fascism

University Room: Omid & Gisel Kordestani Rooftop Conference Center (Q-801)
6 rue du Colonel Combes
Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 18:30 to 19:30

This presentation will explore the complexity of East German national identity as experienced by a small group of dissident activists I have interviewed over 3 decades. Interwoven into the analysis is a deep contextualization of the role of anti-Fascism in East Germany, and the way in which this official discourse became flipped in post-unification Germany. Appropriating the language of the peaceful revolution of 1989 “We are the people” the AfD shocked many with its dramatic electoral success of 2017, becoming the main opposition in the Bundestag. Why was their message particularly appealing to East Germans? How does the experience of having lived under a dictatorship impact upon the East German dissidents’ interpretation of the rise of the far right, and their sense of their own national identity? The participants in the study reject the idea of being proud to be German, and argue that only for the two months of autumn ’89 did they experience “a positive, constructive national identity.”

Molly Andrews is Honorary Professor of Political Psychology at the Social Research Institute, University College London, and the co-director of the Association of Narrative Research and Practice. She currently holds a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship for her project “A multidisciplinary exploration of personal narratives and scholarship.” She has been a Writing Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies (2022), and in 2019-2020, she was the Jane and Aatos Professor in Studies on Contemporary Society at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Her books include Lifetimes of Commitment: Aging, Politics, Psychology and Shaping History: Narratives of Political Change (both Cambridge University Press), and Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life (Oxford University Press). She serves on the Editorial Board of six journals which are published in four countries, and her publications have appeared in Chinese, German, Swedish, Spanish, French, Czech, German, Norwegian and Finnish. For more information, see https://www.mollyandrews.co.uk


If you have any questions or are an AUP external visitor, please contact Maria Medved (mmedvedataup.edu).