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Ecologies of Socialisms

Germany, Nature, and the Left in History, Politics, and Culture

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Edited By Sabine Mödersheim, Scott Moranda and Eli Rubin

This volume explores the complex webs of interaction between the environmental movement, socialism, and the «natural» environment in Germany, and beyond, in the twentieth century. There has long been a divide between the environmental, or «green,» movement and socialist movements in Germany, a divide that has expressed itself in scholarship and intellectual discourse. And yet, upon closer inspection, the split between «red» and «green» is not as clear as it might at first seem. Indeed, little about the interaction between socialism and environmentalism, or socialism and the environment, fits into a neat binary. In a way, the discourses, positions, and policies
that structure the interactions between environmentalism, nature, and socialism in German history and culture can be said to constitute a kind of ecology – a complex and interdependent web of relations, which can appear as antagonisms, but which can also contain deeper, less immediately visible, interdependencies. Ecologies of Socialisms attempts to combine the work of scholars from a wide range of disciplines (history, literature, German/Austrian studies, philosophy, geography) in order to contribute to a better and more nuanced understanding of how «green» and «red» have clashed and also merged in German history and culture.
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“Zweige, Nadeln, Dreck”: Dwelling on the Social in Simple Storys by Ingo Schulze (Katrina Nousek)

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Katrina Nousek

“Zweige, Nadeln, Dreck”: Dwelling on the Social in Simple Storys by Ingo Schulze

At first glance an unlikely story about nature, Ingo Schulze’s novel Simple Storys. Ein Roman aus der ostdeutschen Provinz (1998) sets readers amidst dwindling employment opportunities in Altenburg, Germany, and economically motivated moves to Leipzig, Stuttgart and a recently reunified Berlin. Its figures negotiate professional and personal relationships imbricated with the incursion of new corporations, shifts in political affiliations, and refugees fleeing the Yugoslav wars in the years after the official end of real existing socialism in Europe. However, as the 29 chapters of the novel unfold, they offer readers intertwining vignettes of political grudges and romantic intrigues that draw heavily on natural imagery while alternating between third- and first-person accounts of the time. Shifting from figure to figure, these short episodes give readers a multiple and sometimes contradictory perspective on events that happen not in Berlin after the Wende, a location that has since become representative of postcommunist Germany,1 but rather in the Thuringian “ostdeutschen Provinz” of former East Germany from which the novel gets its name.←275 | 276→

Two constellations of figures are central to the novel: one involves Barbara Holitzschek, a doctor at the psychiatric ward in Leipzig-Dösen, whose partner Frank is a politician from former West Germany in the Green Party. The other constellation of figures involves Martin Meurer: the son of Renate, a secretary who lives in Altenburg-Nord, and the stepson of...

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