Berlin holds a unique place in the shaping of historical and contemporary images of Germany and Germanness. Since the fall of the Wall in 1989 and the concomitant shift in global relations of power, the renewed capital has been the site of intense social, political, and cultural transformation. The New Berlin promotes itself as a creative center populated by a young, dynamic, cosmopolitan, smart, and artistic class of world citizens. Amidst the monuments and artifacts of the past, the ‘voids of Berlin’—to speak with Andreas Huyssen–are rapidly filling. Berlin memorializes the past, while charting promises for Germany and Europe’s future.
What is Berlin today? How is it represented and how does it present itself? What is distinct about its urban aesthetic and imagery? What role has Berlin to play in the articulation of a contemporary German national or supra-national identity? How is Berlin perceived by non-Germans? How are the narratives of the dynamic, hip, young professionals settling in Berlin disrupted by, for instance, narratives of migration, economic inequality, aging, and ethnic co-habitation? How is Berlin’s diversity negotiated in literature, film, music, and art?
For a special theme issue of Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, we welcome contributions that probe these questions and other issues concerning the cultural politics of Berlin from broadly conceived disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to include contributions from a range of different fields, drawing on various frameworks and approaches, including: film; new media; literary and postcolonial studies; events; art; museum; architecture and cityscape; urban planning and demographics; mobility; and/or local, national, European, and international policies. Examinations that attend to cultural multiplicity and difference and to the myriad contradictions in representing and expressing ‘Berlin’ are encouraged.
Lines of inquiry may include:
–transnational capital; provincial locality; glocalism
–fetish and fantasy
–icon and logo
–island or global city
–tourist site and EU magnet
–diverse and/or divided
–Jewish life and politics of memory
–voids, layers, and coverings
–gentrification; urban renewal
–“creative” (UNESCO, 2006) and de-industrial, precarious
–“poor, but sexy” (Mayor Klaus Wowereit)
–hipness and the staging of Berlin
–Berlin, the new-old capital at 25