Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-Unified Germany After 1989 (Place, Memory, Affect)

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9781783482429: Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders: Re-Unified Germany After 1989 (Place, Memory, Affect)
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Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders details, through empirical and theoretical exposition, how the national unity of Germany after the Fall of the Berlin Wall conceals persistent division in the lives of eastern and western Germans.

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About the Author:

Ben Gook is Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, University of Melbourne

Review:

This book, situated at the intersections of psychosocial and cultural studies, political science and anthropology, contributes original and important ideas to the discussion of how psychoanalytic theories might be applied to questions of remembrance, commemoration and nostalgia and helps to elucidate how a liberal capitalist nation-state manages crises and disruptions. (Silke Arnold-de Simine, Senior Lecturer in Film, Media and Cultural Studies, Birkbeck, University of London)

Ben Gook shows in his theoretically sophisticated and quietly passionate study that the complacent tale of successful German unification not only forgets the erasure of eastern Germans' experiences and expectations when the wall came down and the future seemed open but also reproduces the inner-German division it sought to heal. Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders is an auspicious debut. (A. Dirk Moses, Professor of Global and Colonial History, European University Institute, Florence)

This immensely knowledgeable and elegantly argued study focusses on the fraught process of making sense of German re-unification. By psychoanalytically exploring East and West German fantasies and projections―i.e. the conceptualisation of subjectivity, memorialisation, and nostalgic or fetishist object investments―Gook offers provocative and most intriguing new insights into the affective workings (or impasses) of a post-‘Wende’ society. (Christiane Weller, Senior Lecturer in German Studies, Monash University)

An excellent study of the interrelation between the physical, social and the affective geographies that marked the re-unification of Germany, this book offers a subtle analysis of the subjectivities created through that process. Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders shows how analytically productive – one can even say necessary – a subtle deployment of social theory is when dealing with such complex social processes, and highlights the continuing importance of psychoanalytic theory in making sense of realities characterised by a deep entanglement of memory, affect, fantasies, capitalism and geopolitics. (Ghassan Hage FAHA, Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory, University of Melbourne)

This book is a timely intervention in the remembrance of recent German history, or what Ben Gook aptly calls the “enigmatic, unfinished business” of the Berlin Wall’s breaching and subsequent German re-unification. As Gook so eloquently demonstrates through his eminently readable and masterful theorizing of the disavowed ambivalence of this period, the revolution was a chaotic rupture that has only belatedly come to signify what it does today. He argues that it pays to be reminded of the “fundamental and damaging misrecognition” at the core of these events, to be attentive to their contradictions and complex histories, especially as we come to experience the past increasingly through memory, and a new generation of Germans who has no first-hand experience of the East German past comes of age. (Alison Lewis, Professor of German Studies, The University of Melbourne)

At a moment in which the outlook for the European project seems bleak and representative democracy is in crisis, [...] Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders has much to offer specialists interested in how dissatisfied and disaggregated citizens negotiate the identities they are forced to share, at least superficially, with one another. (German History)

The book maps theories of fantasy and collective identity onto the post-transition period and the experience of eastern Germans, adding new dimensions to a burgeoning literature on post-unification identity in Germany. To this end, Gook disentangles complicated theoretical scholarship – from Freud to Zizek – in order to show how the imaginary and the symbolic help to anchor both collective (national) identities and a sense of (the individual) self. (Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe)

Divided Subjects, Invisible Borders provides a detailed introduction to the complexity of memory and space in Germany (and particularly Berlin) following re-unification, and substantially expands on a number of key and emerging considerations relevant to scholars interested in recent German history. In particular, the combination of media, landscape, history, and politics brings new insight to a field that frequently addresses the problems of re-unified Germany from a limited disciplinary perspective (Society & Space)

Gook, an investigator at the ARC Center of Excellence for the History of Emotions at the University of Melbourne, takes a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach, examining East German culture via politics, popular culture, film, and ethnography. . . .Overall, this book provides a fresh analytical approach to the persistent puzzle of divided identities. (Europe Now)

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