Pluralism, governance, and the new right in German memory politics

Wüstenberg, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-0405-3607, 2019. Pluralism, governance, and the new right in German memory politics. German Politics and Society, 37 (3), pp. 89-110. ISSN 1045-0300

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The memory landscape in Germany has been lauded for its pluralism: for reckoning with the past not only critically but in its many complex facets. Nevertheless, particularly victims of repression in East Germany lament that their plight is not adequately represented and some have recently affiliated themselves with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and other groups on the far-right spectrum. This article seeks to explain the seeming contradiction between existing pluralism in German public memory and dissatisfaction with it by tracing how memory activists have shaped memory policy and institutions. Based on extensive interview and archival research, I argue that the infiltration of civil society into the institutions that govern memory in large part explains the strength of critical memory in unified Germany and the country’s ability to accommodate a variety of pasts. However, there is also a distinct lack of pluralism when it comes to the rules of “how memory is done,” to the exclusion of more emotional and politicized approaches that are sometimes favored by some victims’ groups. Using the case of the recent debate about the Hohenschönhausen Memorial, I contend that this explains some of the attraction felt by these groups towards the right.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: German Politics and Society
Creators: Wüstenberg, J.
Publisher: Berghahn Journals
Date: September 2019
Volume: 37
Number: 3
ISSN: 1045-0300
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 18 May 2020 14:56
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 03:00

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