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Look Inside The Politics of Fertility in Twentieth-Century Berlin

The Politics of Fertility in Twentieth-Century Berlin

  • Date Published: August 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521195393

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  • What impact does a falling birth rate have on the strength and vitality of a nation? Are citizens duty-bound to think about this question when they make reproductive and sexual choices? Few countries have grappled with these questions so intensely and with such dramatic consequences as Germany. Annette Timm tracks how fears of a declining population influenced reproductive and sexual health policy in Germany from the end of World War I through the period of German division in the Cold War. A case study set in Berlin, the book examines local measures to control venereal diseases and influence reproductive choices in marriage counseling clinics. It investigates how policies meant to encourage higher birth rates created feelings of belonging even as they infringed upon personal autonomy. The idea that sexual duty should be central to conceptions of citizenship only died with the changing circumstances of the late Cold War.

    • Provides a perspective on the history of sexuality and reproduction that places equal emphasis on the roles of men and women, masculinity and femininity
    • Covers a long time span in very tumultuous twentieth-century German history - both a longitudinal comparison of Weimar, Nazi and post-WWII periods and a comparison of East and West Germany
    • Touches on issues that are still being debated today: how much should governments intervene in reproductive decisions? To what degree are choices in the sexual realm private decisions?
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Timm presents a nuanced and convincing argument on the basis of extensive research, yielding new and important insights. The scope and focus of this book should certainly generate fruitful discussion.' Edward Dickinson, University of California, Davis

    'Timm has written an ambitious and important book. Meticulously researched and theoretically informed, The Politics of Fertility tells the story of the delicate, politicized, and thus unstable balance between sexual duties and sexual rights. Despite its broad chronological reach, it never retreats into generalization or a 'top-down' approach. Instead, it turns an astute eye to popular desires and demands at the local level. And its contemporary relevance will not be lost on anyone attuned to reproductive politics today.' Elizabeth Heineman, University of Iowa, and author of the forthcoming Before Porn Was Legal: The Erotica Empire of Beate Uhse

    'What is sex for? How do states intervene in citizens' most private moments and how do public health authorities reconcile their own obsessions with 'eugenic responsibility' and demographic management with citizens' more inchoate, elemental longings for happier coupling - and this across four very different ideological regimes? Timm's imaginative, deeply researched study offers a wealth of riveting and thought-provoking detail and a magnificent fresh perspective on the unexpected continuities and counterintuitive subtle shifts in twentieth-century German population politics. The book provides a gold mine of insights for transnationally comparative histories of sexuality.' Dagmar Herzog, Graduate Center, City University of New York

    'This complex exploration of Berlin's efforts to combat VD and offer marriage counseling argues that the rhetoric of 'sexual duty' served as a basis for German citizenship across four different regimes in the twentieth century. The author offers an innovative interpretation of population policy as an 'inclusionary racism' that attempted to increase fertility through a sense of national responsibility, supplemented by incentives of the welfare state.' Konrad Jarausch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521195393
    • length: 374 pages
    • dimensions: 242 x 165 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 14 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: birth rates, ideology, and sexual duties
    1. Venereal disease and the crisis of sexuality in the Weimar Republic
    2. Marriage counseling in the Weimar Republic
    3. Nazi Bevölkerungspolitik, health, and the family
    4. Venereal disease control in the Nazi era
    5. Controlling venereal disease in four-power Berlin
    6. Counseling couples in the post-war rubble
    7. Guarding the health of workers and families in the German Democratic Republic
    8. Sexual duties in Cold-War West Germany
    Conclusion: the end of sexual duty and the future of Bevölkerungspolitik.

  • Author

    Annette F. Timm, University of Calgary
    Annette F. Timm is Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary. Her work has appeared in multiple journals and books, including the Canadian Journal of History and the Journal of the History of Sexuality. She is the co-author, with Joshua A. Sanborn, of Gender, Sex and the Shaping of Modern Europe: A History from the French Revolution to the Present Day.

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