CfP: Socialist Subjectivities: Rethinking East Germany under Honecker

Call for papers, deadline 25 January 2020

Call for Papers:
German Studies Association 44th Annual Conference Washington, D.C., October 1-4, 2020

The conveners of the GSA Seminar “Socialist Subjectivities: Rethinking East Germany under Honecker” invite applicants to apply to participate in our seminar at the German Studies Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., October 1-4, 2020.

With Germany having just finished celebrating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is perhaps time to rethink the years leading up to that moment. The anniversary’s speeches and commentary predictably stressed the triumph of an oppressed people’s will after years of stifled democratic yearnings and coercion. Yet, socialism’s collapse caught everyone by surprise: does such shock not suggest 1989 obscures rather than illuminates how East Germans lived during late socialism? This seminar—featuring both new and established scholars from a variety of disciplines—explores the complex dimensions of East German subjecthood under Honecker. Did East Germans experience the 1970s and 1980s as a static period of frustration and intimidation? Or do we see the development of a more dynamic and lively state socialism? And perhaps more importantly, to what extent did both these realities coexist as Easterners tried to make sense of their daily world?

In May 2020, seminar leaders will distribute readings to participants designed to stimulate thinking on late socialism. Seminar participants will pre-circulate original research papers by September 2020. Presentations will then be organized thematically each day of the seminar, with brief introductions to the paper’s topics, followed by extensive discussion. We hope to publish the papers in a future edited volume.

Please send your abstracts of approximately 350-500 words and your CV to all conveners by January 25, 2020. Participants will then be invited to upload their information to the GSA conference website. Participants must be a member of the German Studies Association to participate in the seminar. Information on membership is available on the GSA website (

- Scott Harrison,
- Jeff Hayton,
- Katharine White,