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Title: The construction of German national identity in political culture and intellectual discourse since 1968
Author: Alderton, A. J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis analyses constructions of ‘German identity’ since 1945. By examining political culture, historical debates and intellectual discourse in the Federal Republic, the thesis discusses various processes of identity construction. This project takes the form of an analysis of different discourses, and illustrates the shifting understanding of German ‘nation’ and ‘identity’ since 1945. The thesis focuses on the period since the late 1960s, taking as its starting point the questioning of the continuity between National Socialism and the early years of the Federal Republic. As this is a study of the Federal Republic, it contains only passing reference to the Democratic Republic. Several key historical debates and the works of key intellectuals have been chosen for their importance in the ongoing discourse of the ‘nation’. By concentrating on a section of historical debates, the thesis shows the shifting paradigms of the national question since 1945. The main emphasis of the thesis falls after the paradigm shift in West German political culture in the late 1960s, with particular concentration on the calls for a reinterpretation of German history in the 1980s and 1990s. The analysis of these debates will show the extent to which history has been used to define or legitimize concepts of identity in the present, whether they be ‘national’, ‘anti-national’ or ‘post-national’. To show how ‘nation’ and ‘identity’ are treated in intellectual discourse, the thesis concentrates on four major intellectuals of the Federal Republic: Günter Grass, Martin Walser, Rolf Hochhuth and Botho Straub. These figures have been chosen because they focus on issues of identity in their literary works and also because they have engaged actively in the public political sphere. Each author has been heavily involved with the national debate at various stages in the history of the Federal Republic. Although each writer has been occupied with different concepts of ‘nation’ and ‘identity’, each of these has been problematic in some way. The thesis reveals both diversity and uniformity in responses to the ‘nation’ and ‘identity’. As the discussions about the ‘RAF Ausstellung’ and the ‘Zentrum gegen Vertreibung’ illustrate, the debate over German identity is an ongoing one.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available