Whither Alltag?: How the Wende Museum revises East German history (and why it matters)

Sara Blaylock

Abstract


This paper argues for the significance of the Alltagsgeschichte (everyday history) as both a source of information about the past and as a site of resistance against a master narrative that has excluded East Germans from self-determination. More than just a question of East German culture, I will illustrate that this challenge to history threatens West and united German self-identifications, which maintain the East as subordinate. I will focus my analysis on the Wende Museum, a private non-profit archive and museum of Cold War culture located in Culver City, California. Considering the significance that location has had on the narrating of the East German past, I seek to demonstrate how as neither mileux de mémoire (environment of memory) nor lieux de mémoire (site of memory), the Wende Museum avoids the prospect of representing the past in a unifying “authentic” East German narrative. Facing the future for and through the past, the Wende Museum represents a Cold War tabula rasa with space for infinite pasts.

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University of Victoria