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Name: Alex Brown

PhD: German Studies

Thesis Title: Rethinking the GDR Opposition: Reform, Resistance and Revolution in the Other Germany


Thesis Description:

This thesis focuses on the communist-oriented opposition in the German Democratic Republic and how it has been constructed in state-mandated representations since unification. Although the lines between ‘official’ memory and other discourses are often more blurred than commonly acknowledged, this somewhat artificial division allows insight into the political concerns and ideological norms of the modern German memory landscape.

Various strands of liberal or anti-communist thought are usually privileged in discussions of GDR opposition, in contrast this research emphasises perhaps less obvious–from the point of view of the state-mandated institutions–groupings. Inner-SED reformists, communist dissidents and proponents of a ‘new’ socialist GDR are all considered as part of a thorough interrogation of the Federal Republic’s memorial discourse which touches on fascinating thematic fields such as anti-Semitism, anti-fascism, anti-communism, democracy theory and of course highlights the interrelation between portrayals of the past and contemporary culture and power.


Supervisors and Institution(s):

Dr. Sara Jones (University of Birmingham)

Dr. Joanne Sayner (University of Birmingham)

Dr. Franziska Meyer (University of Nottingham)

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • Conference paper: Ein Moment kommunistischer Ungleichzeitigkeit”? Paul Merker in State-mandated Memory, Memory Studies Association Conference 2017, University of Copenhagen, 14–16 December, 2017
  • Conference paper: Paul Merker: "Ein Moment kommunistischer Ungleichzeitigkeit?", The GDR Today III Colloquium, The University of Bangor, 6-7. April 2017
  • Co-organiser of he GDR Today III Colloquium, The University of Bangor, 6-7. April 2017
  • Conference paper: Theory: The Memory of Ideology (The Ideology of Memory), Thinking Through the Future of Memory Inaugural Conference of the Memory Studies Association, Amsterdam, 3–5 December 2016
  • Project Assistant on the Birmingham Institute of German Studies' project, entitled "Worldviews/Weltanschauungen. The German Past and the Contemporary World: The Domestic and Foreign Politics of Memory". (2014-2015)
  • Participated in 'The GDR Today' conference in Birmingham (2014).


Other Research Interests:

  • Memory and History
  • Ideology Theory
  • History of the Workers' Movement
  • The German Democratic Republic


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