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Look Inside Inventing a Socialist Nation

Inventing a Socialist Nation
Heimat and the Politics of Everyday Life in the GDR, 1945–90


Part of New Studies in European History

  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107690424

£ 23.99

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About the Authors
  • Twenty years after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic, historians still struggle to explain how an apparently stable state imploded with such vehemence. This book shows how 'national' identity was invented in the GDR and how citizens engaged with it. Jan Palmowski argues that it was hard for individuals to identify with the GDR amid the threat of Stasi informants and with the accelerating urban and environmental decay of the 1970s and 1980s. Since socialism contradicted its own ideals of community, identity and environmental care, citizens developed rival meanings of nationhood and identities and learned to mask their growing distance from socialism beneath regular public assertions of socialist belonging. This stabilized the party's rule until 1989. However, when the revolution came, the alternative identifications citizens had developed for decades allowed them to abandon their 'nation', the GDR, with remarkable ease.

    • Sheds light on how the world's most dense network of unofficial spies and informants affected individuals and communities
    • Combines cultural history, political history, and anthropological approaches to provide rare insight into how ideology shaped individuals and communities in everyday life
    • A major contribution to the history of everyday life in the GDR, the history of nationalism in Eastern Europe and the history of modern Germany
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'East Germany's selective use of homeland culture in its reconstruction is illuminating.' Gareth Dale, The Times Higher Education Supplement

    Review of the hardback: 'This remarkable study deepens our understanding of how power functioned in the SED state and proves the explanatory value not just of its formal mechanisms of power, but also its cultural history. Not least owing to its comprehensive temporal range - from 1945 to 1990 - this study will provide a fruitful foundation for further work. The book is, moreover, written in the most lively prose.' Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

    Review of the hardback: 'Palmowski has brilliantly captured the complexities of the GDR, including the juxtaposition of the combination of dictatorship and control of language against social development and subversion of language. He has written a remarkable book indeed.' Peter C. Caldwell, H-Net Reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107690424
    • length: 362 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Socialism, Heimat, and the Construction of Identity:
    2. Cultural renewal and national division, 1945–c.1958
    3. Trace of stones
    Part II. Public and Private Transcripts:
    4. Heimat and identity in the Honecker era
    5. Citizenship and participation in the local community - 'Join In!'
    6. Environmental destruction
    Part III. Power, Practices and Meanings:
    7. Social drama and the euphemization of power
    8. Cultural practices, Eigen-Sinn, and obfuscated meanings
    Conclusion: from citizens to revolutionaries.

  • Author

    Jan Palmowski, King's College London
    Jan Palmowski is Professor of Modern History and European Studies and Head of the School of Arts and Humanities at King's College London. His previous publications include Liberalism and the City: The Case of Frankfurt Am Main, 1866–1914 (1999) and Citizenship and National Identity in Twentieth-Century Germany (as editor, with Geoff Eley, 2008).

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