"The Other Within Us: Collective Identities, Intercultural Relations, and Political Protest in West Germany and the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s"
The project is a joint endeavor of scholars from the History Departments of the University of Heidelberg, Germany and Rutgers University, NJ under the direction of Prof. Dr. Detlef Junker (Founding Director of the HCA). Sponsored in its entirety by the Volkswagen Foundation, Germany, it was launched in October 2002 and consists of four case studies individually
pursued by Wilfried Mausbach, Martin Klimke (both University of Heidelberg), Belinda Davis and Carla MacDougall (both Rutgers University). Responsible for coordination of the project is Danijela Albrecht (University of Heidelberg).
This research project is concerned with social and countercultural protest movements in West Germany and the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.
It looks at intercultural exchanges between these movements and at the importance of those exchanges for the construction of collective identities on both sides of the Atlantic. How did ideas, life styles and cultural practices move back and forth across the Atlantic? Who transmitted them? In which ways were they received or rejected, adopted and - on the background of two different historical experiences - adapted to the respective national settings?
The project tries to gauge the impact these processes had on the (re-) construction of national and transnational identities in West Germany and the United States.
Various presentations, conferences and workshops have been held during the course of the project, inter alia at Rutgers University, the University of Heidelberg, and the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D.C.
Project participants will also present some of their findings through a joint panel at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Philadelphia in January 2006 (see list of events). In addition, the project cooperates with the Hamburg Institute for Social Research (HIS), Germany, in a joint oral history project. Detailed individual project descriptions are
provided below. For more information on upcoming events and news concerning the project please visit our webpages at
http://fas-history.rutgers.edu/vw-project (English) or
The protest movements of the 1960/70s are increasingly viewed as a global phenomenon. They can be seen as a first peak of a socio-cultural variant of a general globalization process, upon whose economic, technological and political advance they follow and react. For the social and cultural area it also applies that globalization presupposes contact, entwinement and adaptation. As far as German-American relations are concerned, these processes have so far predominantly been examined for the 1950s and have
been discussed under the categories "Westernization" or "Americanization."
This research project wants to widen this discussion with regard to time period and methodology. First of all, it seeks to extend the study of the transfer of ideas, lifestyles and cultural practices between the U.S.A. and the Federal Republic of Germany into the 1960/70s and to provide a solid empirical basis for this time frame. Grounded on this basis, its second aim is to have a closer look on the effects of these transfer processes on the construction of collective identities between various movement and protest organizations, among others the Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund in West Germany and the Students for a Democratic Society in the United States.
Thirdly, the concept of "interculturality," which has been mostly discussed outside the field of historiography, will be introduced into the debate concerning Americanization / Westernization. In addition, such a broadened perspective will eventually open up the view on a specific historical dimension of interculturality:
On the one hand, historical facts and contemporary events can be understood as "texts" which are confronted by socially and culturally different areas of experience; on the other hand,
these areas of experience turn out to be historically formed themselves.
This, in turn, has significant effects on the reception of different
cultural items in general as well as on their revaluation and utilization during the process of the one's own identity formation.
The program outlined here requires methods of different disciplines. For the empirical data acquisition the unearthing and critical analysis of historical sources is indispensable. During the investigation of transcultural processes regarding the multifarious international youth revolt of the 1960s, the recourse on sociological movement research seems particularly helpful, especially when dealing with the transnational diffusion of ideas. To answer the question about the influence of intercultural transfer processes on the construction and reshaping of collective identities it will also be necessary to draw on various anthropological and discourse-historical methods. The exchange of ideas and life styles between the U.S. and the Federal Republic, the transformation and revaluation of discourses and cultural practices among the youth and intellectuals in each country during the 1960/70s as well as its relevance for processes of the identity formation will be closely analyzed in this research project.
The following research projects will be pursued individually:
Wilfried Mausbach: "Vietnam in Germany: America's War in Asia and the Politics of Identity in West Germany, 1961-1973"
Martin Klimke: "Between Berkeley and Berlin, San Francisco and Frankfurt: The Student Movements of the 1960s in Transatlantic Perspective"
Belinda Davis: "Political Imagination and the New Left: Discourse, Demos, and the Transformation of West German Political Culture"
Carla MacDougall: "The Politics of Space and Feminist Identity in 1970s West Germany"