The Department of History is delighted to host Astrid M. Eckert as our second annual Graham Visiting Fellow. Professor Eckert's talk is titled "West Germany and the Iron Curtain," and takes a fresh look at the history of Cold War Germany and the German reunification process from the spatial perspective of the West German borderlands that emerged along the volatile inter-German border after 1945.
These border regions constituted the Federal Republic's most sensitive geographical space, in which it had to confront partition and engage its socialist neighbour, East Germany, in concrete ways. Each issue that arose in these borderlands - from economic deficiencies to border tourism, environmental pollution, landscape change, and the siting decision for a major nuclear facility - was magnified and mediated by the presence of what became the most militarized border of its day, the Iron Curtain.
The talk is based on Eckert's new book, West German and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands (Oxford UP, 2019).
Astrid M. Eckert is Associate Professor of Modern European History at Emory University in Atlanta. Before moving to Emory, she was a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute (GHI) in Washington, D. C. She published The Struggle for the Files. The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War with Cambridge University Press (2012, Pb. 2014), which had previously appeared in German with Steiner Verlag Stuttgart. Her new book West Germany and the Iron Curtain is now out with Oxford University Press (2019). It explores the meaning and consequences of the Iron Curtain for West Germany in economic, environmental, and political terms, thereby re-reading the history of the Federal Republic from its Cold War periphery. The book moves across the caesura of 1989/90 and integrates the “long” postwar era with the post-unification decades. She held several prestigious fellowships, including a Berlin Prize Fellowship at the American Academy Berlin and a Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship.