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Communicating Memory & History

Edited By Nicole Maurantonio and David W. Park

Communicating Memory & History takes as its mission the job of giving communication history its full due in the study of memory. Taking three keywords—communication, history, and memory—representing related, albeit at times hostile, fields of inquiry as its point of departure, this book asks how the interdisciplinary field of memory studies can be productively expanded through the work of communication historians. Across the chapters of this book, contributors employ methods ranging from textual analysis to reception studies to prompt larger questions about how the past can be alternately understood, contested, and circulated.

Communicating Memory & History is ideal for teaching, including case studies that elaborate different ways to approach issues in memory studies. While some foundational knowledge would be useful, it is possible to use the text without extensive knowledge of the literature. This book is of particular interest to professors, graduate students, and advanced undergraduate students of communication and media studies, as well as scholars and students in cultural studies, history, and sociology—disciplines where one finds steady consideration of issues related to communication, communication history, and memory.

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11. Reclaiming Identity: GDR Lifeworld Memories in Digital Public Spheres (Manuel Menke / Ekaterina Kalinina)

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11. Reclaiming Identity: GDR Lifeworld Memories in Digital Public Spheres

MANUEL MENKE AND EKATERINA KALININA

Introduction

After the fall of the Berlin Wall citizens of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) faced a period of a rapid yet protracted transformation from a socialist authoritarian state to a market economy and democracy. At first, the reunification narrative was cast as the “closing of a historic rift” and had been framed “as the bringing together of a single ethno-cultural community, and the reclassification of the East Germans as citizens of the Federal Republic.”1 The reunification with West Germany was “greeted with almost universal enthusiasm by the Germans on both sides” until the hoped-for economic upturn failed to materialize.2 It became apparent during the 1990s that the transition process was conditioned by political, economic, and cultural differences that were not as easy to overcome. For many East Germans the integration into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was not as economically beneficial as projected and came with unsuspected hardships on multiple levels. People experienced ruptures in their everyday life and were forced to adapt to new norms while at the same time struggling with the rules of the market economy.3 This struggle was also a result of the FRG’s drainage of the former GDR industry, which fostered the disappointment of the East Germans who no longer believed in the future of ‘blossoming landscapes’ they were promised by former Chancellor...

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