Workshop “The legacy of the Cold War and the history of the present”

"The legacy of the cold War and the history of the present"

Workshop for doctoral candidates and postdocs

In cooperation with the Point Alpha Academy, a scientific workshop was held in May with participants from Washington D.C., Lincoln, Mannheim and Siegen.

Key note: Perspectives on Cold War and Post-Cold War Studies

At the beginning, Prof. Dr. Hope Harrison gave a lecture on recent trends in Cold War studies and its relevance in the present situation. Because they changed: After years of putting the memory of the German Wall aside, followed by a period of focusing on the victims of the Wall and finally on proud celebration of the brave and peaceful East German people who pushed open the Wall, the official narrative as well as its contemporary relevance changed again in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis in Germany and the resulting rise of right-wing, sometimes violent, extremism in Germany.

Panel I and II: Transformations of European and transatlantic security orders in the 1990s

In the first panel, Prof. Dr. Phillipp Gassert (Mannheim) spoke about his preliminary thoughts on a research project on changes in the security order in the 1990s. Hans-Georg Ripken (Mannheim) followed by a talk on Data science as a research approach for investigating the transformation of international relations. The panel was completed by a contribution of Tim Dielmann, Joshua Haberkern and Martin Utsch (All Mannheim) who talked on the European integration process, the ethnification of “Otherness” and violence, and French security concepts for the 1990s.

Key note: Militarism and Anti-militarism in West Germany, 1970-1990

Professor Alexander Vazansky from the University of Nebraska gave an overview of the historical context, including the post-World War II era, the Cold War, and the division of Germany, while defining militarism and anti-militarism. He delved into the rebuilding of the Bundeswehr, West Germany’s integration into NATO, and the public’s support for the military due to national security concerns. The discussion covered the origins and key events of the anti-militarism movement, such as Vietnam War protests, opposition to nuclear weapons, and the peace movement, highlighting major organizations, figures, and their impact on public opinion and policy. The lecture concluded by examining the government’s response to anti-militarism, the resultant shifts in defense policy, and the long-term effects on German society and policy, particularly in the context of post-reunification Germany.

Key note: Energy landscapes and eco-governmentality

Dr. Phillip Kröger (Siegen) explored how East and West Germany managed their natural resources and energy needs through lignite mining. It delves into the contrasting environmental policies and social attitudes toward nature, highlighting the long-term impacts on landscapes and communities. The analysis revealed how different political ideologies shaped ecological governance and the legacy of opencast mining on Germany’s environment.

Panel III: History of the present

Prof. Dr. Reinhild Kreis from the university Siegen gave an impulse on the question: What ist the history if the present. After that there was a textbased seminar work on three texts:

  • Phillip Sarasin: 1977. Eine kurze Geschiche der Gegenwart (Suhrkamp 2021)
  • Frank Bösch: Zeitenwende 1979. Als die Welt von heute begann (Beck 2019)
  • Malte Thießen: Auf Abstand. Eine Gesellschaftsgeschichte der Coronapandemie (Campus 2021)



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