ALEXANDER LEISTNER (LEIPZIG): “LAST YEAR TITANIC”. THE DEMISE OF EXPECTATION HORIZONS AND THE EFFECTS ON THE EAST GERMAN TRANSFORMING SOCIETY
The collapse of the GDR society has left material traces: demolished buildings – here mainly industrial plants, faded facades and reconstructed inner cities. The gaps and voids of other experiences of loss, on the other hand, are less visible.
Contemporary ideas of the future perished with the GDR, in particular the hope for a reform socialist renewal as well as for economic stabilization through “flourishing landscapes.” Both futures, which were plausible in their time but at the same time competing with each other, were marginalized in subsequent years in terms of historical policy and ‘forgotten’ in terms of memory culture. Nevertheless, they continue to shape (East) German society to the present day and are part of a crisis-ridden contemporary experience. The analysis of the, in part very different, obstinate appropriations of the past futures of 1989/90 allow an approach to understanding the heterogeneity of experience and expectation as well as to understanding the political culture in the East of the present.
Alexander Leistner is a research associate at the Institute for Cultural Studies at the University of Leipzig. There he is responsible for the two subprojects of the BMBF research network “The Contested Legacy of 1989”. Previously, he worked as a research assistant at the German Youth Institute and in the Saxon state parliament. For his dissertation “On the Emergence and Stabilization of Social Movements. A Historical Sociology of the Independent Peace Movement in the GDR” („Zur Entstehung und Stabilisierung sozialer Bewegungen. Eine historische Soziologie der unabhängigen Friedensbewegung in der DDR“) he received the “Max Weber Prize for Young Researchers” in 2016.
Most recently published: “Das umstrittene Erbe von 1989. Zur Gegenwart eines Gesellschaftszusammenbruchs”, Böhlau Verlag 2021 (together with Monika Wohlrab-Sahr) and the thematic issue “Die Friedensbewegung und der Krieg in Europa – eine Standortbestimmung”, Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen, 2022.
Technische Universität Berlin
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