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German identities

Rediscovering national consciousness after 1989

Munich, 08/09/2011

National consciousness is still a force to be reckoned with in Europe – in spite, or because, of globalization and European Union. This is true of Germany too, as became apparent during the World Cup football tournament which the country hosted in the summer of 2006. “I regard this phenomenon, which came as a surprise to many people, as one consequence of a complex set of long-term processes,” says LMU Munich ethnologist Professor Irene Götz. Her new book, entitled “Deutsche Identitäten” (“German Identities”), is a study of the re-emergence of a German national identity in the period since 1989.

In the book Götz traces the sociopolitical developments initiated by the events of the epoch-making year of 1989, which radically altered the postwar order in Europe and ushered in a fundamental change in Germany’s view of itself. The study deals with the ensuing debates about “Leitkultur” i.e., the status of German culture in a multicultural society, as the role of the so-called “new Germans”. Biographical case studies are complemented by reflections on attempts to construct a common historical memory that encompasses the “cultural heritage” of both West and East Germany. “These efforts have made it clear that one cannot speak either of a community of heirs or a common concept of identity,” says Götz, who works in the Institute of European Ethnology at LMU Munich. “Instead we find that specific interest groups have appeared which, depending on the context – regional, milieu-specific, ethnic or whatever –, adopt particular positions, pursue distinct policies and engage in ideological debates. An important issue is the future of the nation state, which is undergoing a critical transformation as a result of forces emanating from Europe itself and the wider world.” Much of the work on which the book is based was carried out while the author was based at the Humboldt University in Berlin. (suwe/PH)

Deutsche Identitäten. Die Wiederentdeckung des Nationalen nach 1989
Irene Götz
Böhlau Verlag, 376 pages, 27. July 2011
ISBN: 978-3412202248

Professor Irene Götz
Institute for European Ethnology
LMU Munich
Phone.: +49 89 / 2180 3328
Fax: +49 89 / 2180 3507


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