I’m happy to announce that as of December 20, 2018, my book will be available in a more affordable paperback version. Just in time for the holidays!
Civil Society and Memory
in Postwar Germany
Cambridge University Press, 2017
Jenny Wüstenberg, York University, Toronto
"Nachgegraben" 1985, Hans Peter Stiebing, Berlin
Blending history and social science, this book tracks the role of social movements in shaping German public memory and values since 1945. Drawn from extensive original research, it offers a fresh perspective on the evolution of German democracy through civic confrontation with the violence of its past.
Told through the stories of memory activists, the study upends some of the conventional wisdom about modern German political history. An analysis of the decades-long struggle over memory and democracy shows how grassroots actors challenged and then took over public institutions of memorialization. In the process, confrontation of the Holocaust has been pushed to the centre of political culture. In unified Germany, memory politics have shifted again, as activists from East Germany have brought attention to the crimes of the East German state. This book delivers a novel and important contribution to scholarship about postwar Germany and the wider study of memory politics. Read more
Jeffrey Olick, University of Virginia, author of "The Politics of Regret" and "The Sins of the Fathers"
'Where does memory come from, and where does it take place? In contrast to conventional approaches that emphasize either the state as a producer of memory or the private sphere as the location of non-state memory, Jenny Wüstenberg's important book highlights the neglected role of memory activists. This book is a truly significant contribution to the literature, both about Germany and about memory politics, providing nuanced interpretations and novel theoretical insights. A major accomplishment!'
Michael Rothberg, UCLA, author of Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization
Emphasizing the role of memory activists in civil society - and their entanglement with state institutions and actors - Jenny Wüstenberg makes a compelling case for the force of contentious memories in reshaping the landscape of democratic remembrance. Her bottom-up approach brings memory agency to the fore and provides a necessary new perspective on a history we thought we already knew: the development of the public memory of National Socialism, the Holocaust, and communist repression in the postwar Federal Republic of Germany. Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany is important reading for all scholars in memory studies, Holocaust studies, and German studies.
Jenny Wüstenberg is DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Visiting Assistant Professor in Politics at York University in Toronto, where she runs the Graduate Diploma in German & European Studies and teaching courses on German & European politics, contentious politics and the politics of memory. Her research examines memory politics in Europe, in settler colonial states, and transnationally. Jenny is one of the founding Co-Chairs of the Memory Studies Association and of the Research Network on Transnational Memory and Identity in Europe in the Council for European Studies, as well as co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Memory Studies Network in the German Studies Association. Jenny lives with her three daughters, husband and cat in Toronto.
Please join me for a discussion of Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany at the “Laden” of the Berliner Geschichtswerkstatt on 30 April at 7 PM. This event will be in German.
We are about to kick off the second Memory Studies Association conference in Copenhagen (14-16 December)! Memory Activism is well represented, with multiple panels and a dinner group! And Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Europe will be raffled off to a lucky winner (along with many other great books)! Check out the conference program here.
Thanks for your interest in Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany!
This website is of course primarily a way to let people know about the book. I will publish reviews here as they come out and also share information about projects related to memory activism.
And: this is the only place you can see photos of activism and memorials that I would have liked to have in the book, but that didn’t make it in (I was only allowed to pick 36).
I’m excited to say that Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany is now available for purchase in hard copy and for Kindle!
Yes, I know it’s expensive. That’s how it goes with hard backs these days. But in two years, it will be available in paperback. If you don’t want to wait that long to read it, ask you library to purchase it!