By Kate Botterill
The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated by thousands of Europeans and World leaders at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany last week. World leaders at the celebrations on Monday night talked of Mauerfall as a decisive moment in history signalling a political shift from repression and state control to freedom, prosperity and individual opportunity. The political speeches proclaimed 1989 as a turning point in overcoming the ideological force of socialism, where east Germans emerged from the “darkness” of a socialist existence towards self-liberation and unification with the west. Representations of East and West have long since been used to categorise regions geopolitically, constructing a binary between the post-socialist world and ‘the rest/the west’.
Critiquing such representations of East and Central Europe, Stenning and Horschelmann (2008) argue for a reconsideration of history, geography and difference in the ‘post-socialist world’. They support an approach to theory in which history is non-linear and non-deterministic and, drawing on post-colonial discourse, suggest a deconstruction of the east-west binary. They read post-socialism as extending beyond East and Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, re-examining geographical categories and existing histories, and advocating methodologies that validate ‘the subaltern, the discursive and the ethnographic’ (330). Thus, they pay particular attention to the ‘lived experiences’ of people in the region and challenge a ‘persistent tendency to marginalise the experiences of the non-western world in a discourse of globalisation and universalisation’ (312).
Read Berlin marks 20 years since the fall of the wall in the Guardian
Stenning, A. and Horschelmann, K. (2008) History, Geography and Difference in the Post-Socialist World: Or, do we still need Post-Socialism in Antipode