This faculty roundtable reflects on events in China and Germany in 1989 and their far-reaching impact. Topics include Beijing and Berlin in 1989, Eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall, German Green Politics, the U.S.-China Trade War, and human rights issues in Xinjiang.
Contact Information: Qinna Shen (email@example.com)
Moderator: Paul Smith
History and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Haverford College
Cosponsored by a Mellon Tri-College Faculty Forum Brainstorming & Seed Grant and by the Department of German & German Studies at BMC.
Qinna Shen, German Studies, BMC
“Prelude to German Reunification: Tiananmen and Leipzig in 1989”
This presentation explores the transnational connection between the prodemocracy movement on Tiananmen Square in spring of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall later that year. It describes how the East German government closely monitored events in Beijing as it formulated a response to protests in East German cities and came perilously close to implementing the “Chinese Solution”—the brutal suppression of dissent by the state—as a means to control its own citizens. Discussion of the events of 1989 has acquired a renewed urgency due to current developments in Hongkong.
Anita Kurimay, History, BMC
“Zero Hour: The Opening of the Hungarian Border in 1989 and the Politics of Rewriting History”
The talk will address Hungary’s role in the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first part will consider the significance of the opening of Hungary’s border towards Austria and letting through East German refugees as regards the demise of the GDR. The second part will examine how the story of Hungary’s role in "zero hour" has taken on a life of its own since the governing right-wing Fidesz party has begun to rewrite this historical moment for its own purposes.
Carol Hager, Political Science and Environmental Studies, BMC
“Green Politics and Democratic Discourse in the Two Germanies (1989-2019)”
This presentation takes as its starting point research I conducted during and shortly after German reunification. Environmental movements became a major vehicle for promoting citizen participation in both East and West Germany during the 1980s. Their critiques of industrial society reflected the different constellations of power in their respective countries. Their disparate understandings of power and democracy complicated the movements' efforts to coalesce during the unification process and to play a major role in German politics during the 1990s. I will explore the proposition that this fundamental divide persists to the present day and helps explain the continuing discrepancy in the appeal of B90/The Greens as an alternative to the CDU and SPD in the old and new German federal states.
Seung-Youn Oh, Political Science, BMC
“Brace Yourself for the New Normal: Assessing the Ongoing U.S.-China Trade Dispute”
The US and China kicked off the tit-for-tat trade war on July 6, 2018, which has shaken up the global economy. In search of a trade deal, U.S. and Chinese negotiators have had eleven rounds of trade talks in the first half of 2019 alone. But negotiations collapsed in May, with each side blaming the other for the impasse. Prof. Oh will discuss why the world’s two great economic powers on either side of the Pacific still remain as far apart as they were one year ago and why we may need to brace ourselves for this “new normal” of continuing tensions between great powers in the coming years.
Lauren Restrepo, Growth and Structure of Cities, BMC
“‘7-5’ Ten Years On: Local Lives, Central Power, and Global Activists in the Fight for the Soul of Xinjiang”
Ten years have passed since the July 2009 Urumqi riots, the most deadly incidence of ethnic violence in the history of modern China and a turning point in state-society relations between the CCP and the Turkic minority population of Xinjiang. In the years since, China has revoked the permission of the region’s ethnic minorities to participate in the development project and instead subjected them to a program of state violence on a level somewhere between cultural and ethnic genocide. In this talk, I will trace the evolution of state power in this region since 2009. I will also explore the ways in which global activists – especially, but not only, within Germany – have put political and economic pressure on the Chinese state to end its system of mass internment of Uyghurs and other minorities. We will discuss both the effectiveness of this pressure to date and what more concerned individuals (yes, including you!) can do to help effect change in the region.