Belonging in the Two Berlins: Kin, State, Nation / Edition 1

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Overview

Belonging in the two Berlins is an ethnographic investigation into the meaning of German selfhood during the Cold War. Taking the practices of everyday life in the divided Berlin as his point of departure, Borneman shows how ideas of kin, state, and nation were constructed through processes of mirror-imaging and misrecognition. Using linguistics and narrative analysis, he compares the autobiographies of two generations of Berlins residents with the official version of the lifecourse prescribed by the two German states. He examines the relation of the dual political structure to everyday life, the way in which the two states legally regulated the lifecourse in order to define the particular categories of self which signify Germanness, and how citizens experientially appropriated the frameworks provided by these states. Living in the two Berlins constantly compelled residents to define themselves in opposition to their other half. Borneman argues that this resulted in a de facto divided Germany with two distinct nations and peoples. The formation of German subjectivity since World War II is unique in that the distinctive features for belonging - for being at home - to one side exclude the other. Indeed, these divisions inscribed by the Cold War account for many of the problems in forging a new cultural unity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
' ... a study that not only is theoretically sophisticated but also constitutes a major contribution to the anthropological study of modernity in Europe ... It contributes in novel and methodologically intriguing ways to our understanding of the complex relationships among state, kinship and narrative, and it throws refreshingly critical light on received ideas about the current state of German society and culture.' Michael Hersfeld
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Borneman ( After the Wall ) spent two and a half years (1986-1989) in East and West Berlin, analyzing Berliners' personal lives in light of the differing family policies propounded by their respective states. This dense, academic work may intrigue anthropologists and specialists, but the general reader will prefer more journalistic accounts. The book's most accessible chapter is its first, which examines East and West Germany's battle over how to define--and name--basic social and political categories. He suggests that East German policies aimed to redefine the nuclear family as a type of collectivep.83 , while West German policies aimed to ``restore the family to its former, honorable status'' in the traditional mode. Older East Berliners' sense of themselves as victims was shaped by the Cold War, while West Berliners easily identified with their state's goals of work and prosperity. Children in both camps often defied state ideology without challenging such basic definitions. Borneman concludes that the distinct trajectories of both societies mean that cultural reunification will be slow in a united Germany; the most appropriate analogy, he suggests, is post-Civil War Reconstruction in America. (Oct.)
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; Acknowledgments; Introduction; 1. Naming, categorizing, periodizing; 2. Clarification of concepts; 3. Demographics of production and reproduction; 4. State strategies and kinship; 5. Victimization, political reconstruction, and kinship transformations in East Berlin: generation I; 6. Sentimentalization, fear, and alternate domestic form in East Berlin: generation II; 7. Hausfrauenehe and kinship restoration in West Berlin: generation I; 8. Politicized kinship in West Berlin: generation II; 9. Marriage, family, nation; Postscript; Notes; References; Index.

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