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Event examines 25 years of reunified Germany

By Leslie King | Emory Report | Oct. 22, 2015

Three Emory faculty members will examine German reunification after 25 years during a panel discussion Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m. in the Oxford Road Building Presentation Room, Emory Bookstore.

The Department of German Studies hosts this discussion, which is free and open to the public.

Professors Brian Vick, Thomas Lancaster and Peter Höyng will provide brief statements related to their respective fields.

Vick, associate professor of history, will give the historical view of reunification.  Lancaster, professor of political science, will provide a perspective from contemporary politics. Höyng, associate professor of German studies, will give the cultural and literary view of what has transpired since this historic event.

Caroline Schaumann, associate professor of German studies, is the moderator for the discussion.

“I will frame my remarks in part from personal experience, having been on the scene in Berlin for reunification in 1990 and having returned to Germany many times in the past 25 years,” Vick said.

From a longer historical perspective, he will look back to the times when Germans lived in separate states and to the many changes in borders of the various versions of a united Germany since the middle of the 19th century. 

“Germany's changing position in a changing Europe also needs to be considered when thinking about the experiences of eastern and western Germans over the past decades,” Vick noted.

Höyng will trace significant changes in literary production and distribution due to the unification 25 years ago, and how they are independent of generational shifts or the dispersion of the literary domain due to the rise and dominance of the Internet.

“One of the most obvious effects of a united Germany is the literary treatment of the two Germanys, ranging from humorous to serious to tragic,” Höyng said.

Lancaster will contrast the initial expectations and hopes of when the Wall came down then “fast forward to the contemporary period, it is truly amazing how the unification truly brought the two former states together into one state." 

However, it is clear that the reunification was entirely on the West’s terms, he said, citing institutions of governance, same national anthem, political parties, even its western allies (the United States and the European Union).

"There remains some interesting and lesser known residuals effects of reunification.  One fascinating example is the political fact that, given the current grand coalition between [Prime Minister] Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats, the leading parliamentary opposition to this government in the Bundestag is The Left Party, the heir of the former East German Communist Party," Lancaster points out.

For more informationon the panel discussion, contact Peter Höyng or Hiram Maxim.