GermanStudies.ca - Newsletter September 2010

Events on German Unification across Canada- Selected contributions will be available on video clips

Canadian universities and German institutions in Canada organize events on the 20th Anniversary of the German Unification. Among those initiatives are the following: The Centre canadien d'études allemandes et européennes (CCEAE) together with Le Centre d'études et de recherches internationales (CÉRIUM), the Centre d'Excellence sur l'Union européenne (CEUE/EUCE) at Université de Montréal and the Goethe Institut Montréal organize an international conference "Le retour de l'histoire ? Répercussions européennes et internationales de la réunification allemande" with high-profile guests from Canada and Germany. The Department of German and Slavic Studies at University of Manitoba joins forces with the Prairie Political Science Association hosting an interdisciplinary session on the transformation of Germany since 1989. Under the title "Globalization & (Dis)unification: Europe's Berlin Republic turns 20" the Department of German at Queens University organizes an event on united Germany in an international perspective. And the project Innovation-Canada.ca makes available a photo exhibiton entitled "From Peaceful Revolution to German Unity".

GermanStudies.ca and CCEAE at the Université de Montréal are working on streaming some video clips and contributions made during the conference in Montreal. These video clips will soon be posted in our Online Forum. Please feel free to use those video clips in your seminars and courses- you will find valuable short comments and lecture style contributions. You can already find our first video clip by Dr. Alan McDougall, University of Guelph, who reflects on the role of soccer in post-1990 Germany. Please feel free to submit your own video clip. Feel free to contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

New CLUSTER Initiative

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Expert Commment: Unification and the Changing German Gender Regime - Heather McRae, York University

There have been profound political, legal, economic and social changes in post-unification Germany during the past 20 years. Merging two distinct systems has necessitated changes to both and, while the most profound changes have certainly been in the former East Germany, there have been changes, especially in social and gender norms, in the West as well.

Prior to unification, West Germany was generally identified as a "strong male breadwinner" regime (Ostner and Lewis 1995) characterised by a clear division of roles for men and women and reflected both in policy and practice. Many West German women found their personal identity in their roles as mothers and homemakers. This was reinforced by policies which included a long, low paid parental leave, a poorly developed child care system for children under three, and an education system in which the school day ended shortly after noon. As a result, women's labour market participation has typically been low. In contrast, East German women were encouraged to be both mothers and active members of the labour market. Policies in East Germany aimed to facilitate both employment and motherhood. A well-paid one year maternity leave, near-universal childcare network for children over 1 year, and state sponsored activities for school aged children, helped to ensure that mothers could remain in active employment even when their children were young.

The availability of childcare for children under three has been a hot topic in recent years, particularly in the former West. in 1989, there was room in formal daycare centres for only 2% of the children under three. In East Germany, there were positions for over 80% of these children (Hagemann 2006). In the post-unification era, two interesting trends are apparent: a gradual increase in the number of young children in care centres in the "Alte Bundesländer" to approximately 9%; and a simultaneous drop in the number of young children in care centres in the "neuen Bundesländer" to only 35% (Henry-Huthmacher 2005). While there are certainly a number of factors influencing the availability of public childcare spots, it is noteworthy that there appears to be a convergence in the middle, with the new patterns reflecting neither then East nor the West German model.

The post-unification political environment has generally been open to addressing questions of reconciliation of work and family responsibilities. This helped to bring about changes to the parental leave model which encourage shorter leaves and the participation of fathers in caregiving. In just a few years this has contributed to changes in parenting practices in both East and West. Approximately 1 in 5 fathers take at least a portion of parental leave (FAZ 2010). Notably, the number of fathers taking leave is higher in the East than in the West, even though in the former East Germany men typically held very little of the childcare responsibilities. Finally, compared to 1990, the rate of employment for women in partnerships (married or co-habitating) has increased from 53% to 73% in 2009 compared to a relatively constant 83% in East(ern) Germany (Hans Böckler Stiftung 2010). Nonetheless, while there are examples of how the two societies are gradually merging, there remain substantial differences.

While the patterns and changes are not identical, they are indicative of gradual shifts in both models towards an more equitable partnership in both employment and care giving. Certainly, unification is not the only reason for these social shifts. It has however played an important role. As individuals move from East to West, they have brought social expectations for child care and reconciliation policies with them thus increasing the demand for affordable child care options. Similarly, the increase in the number of politicians in central roles, many of whom are from the former East, whose own experiences include non-parental childcare centres has helped to create a political environment which is more accepting to public daycare and reconciliation policies. Thus, while political unification per se may not have directly generated immediate and substantive changes in gender policies, the aftermath of unification has contributed to gradual changes in social and gender norms in both East and West Germany.

Heath MacRae is Professor at the Department of Political Science and Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University

Expert Comment: What's in the box? Kurt Huebner, University of British Columbia

When the second Unification Treaty came into effect on October 3 1990, the political and socio-economic unification of Germany eventually was put on a track of institutional convergence that already started with the Economic and Social Unification from July of the same year that included the introduction of the Deutschmark. The former East was supposed to adjust to the social, political and economic institutions of the West in order to become the smaller outfit of Model Germany. The German case differs in many respects from transition and transformation processes in other former Communist countries. It is unique in the sense that the former German Democratic Republic is the only country out of this group that was integrated into a already existing (and highly successful) democratic capitalist market economy.

In terms of alleviating the social burden of transformation this feature was extremely helpful. Despite tremendous sectoral changes that came with huge numbers of job losses, GDP per capita and more so household incomes in the East moved from less then 50 % of the West average up to 74 respectively 83 % until 2008. Even though huge net transfers from West to East through the German Unity Fund and Solidarity Pact I and II as well as through a bunch of further infrastructure programs, often co-financed with the EU, did not generate 'blooming landscapes' and new jobs it is a historical fact that those transfers but definitely helped to avoid the depth and breadth of social costs that occurred in other parts of former Central Europe.

The early debates on the economic effects of the particular modalities of unification pointed towards the possibility that the Eastern Länder become the Mezzogiorno of Germany: Structural underdevelopment as path of the future. From today's perspective such a scenario of despair reads like an ill-analyzed exaggeration - despite all the structural problems of the East. Travelling through the East would show attractive cities and villages that lost all their grayish Soviet appeal, showcase modern manufacturing firms, well-established universities and first class communication and transportation systems. Some economic hot spots in the East are more advanced then many economic-geographic zones in the West.

However, the reference to a Mezzogiorno process of development still holds some particles of truth. Twenty years later, unemployment is on average still higher in the East then in the West; labor productivity per hour is still significantly lower in the East; debt levels per capita exceed those in the West; and wages are subdued in comparison to the West. It is no surprise then that the East still has net emigration, which in combination with strong declines in fertility rates produces a dark scenario for the future economic pathway of East Germany - in particular in light of the fact that the tax base for the Länder as well as for communities will continue to shrink. Research on comparative convergence processes make me repeat earlier pessimistic arguments regarding the economic future of the East. Economic research came up with the idea that a convergence speed of 2% gives a reasonable time frame for sustainable and tenable catch-up processes. In the East-West convergence process between the mid-1990s and 2008 convergence speed in regards to GDP per capita and unemployment rates was on average about 1%. If this trend would stay constant it would need additional 49 years until the gap is closed to zero.

Let me stress that this is a purely calculation exercise resting on the - bold - assumption that the main drivers of those processes stay put in both parts of Germany. Future economic processes will not exactly follow such a scenario. The experience of the last twenty years shows, though, that even a moderate catch-up process is more time-consuming, expensive and complicated then the political class until today is willing to admit. In times of a fundamentally changing global economy and a new division of labor on the global and also on the European level, the next twenty years of catch-up may become even more difficult.

Kurt Hübner holds the Chair for German and European Studies at the Institute for European Studies at UBC; he also holds the Jean Monnet Chair for European Integration and Global Political Economy

News from CCEAE at Université de Montréal

 The fall semester at the CCEAE will be busy with a flurry of conferences and lectures.

There will be lectures from Florent Brayard (EHESS-CNRS), Barbara Agnese (University of Vienna), Beatrice Nickel (University of Stuttgart), Reinhard Krüger (University of Stuttgart), Keith Tribe (University of Sussex), Claudia Albert (Freie Universität Berlin), and, at the end of September, an international workshop, Une critique des pratiques culturelles? Évolution et actualité du modèle de l'École de Francfort.

An International Conference on the reunification of Germany, "Le retour de l'histoire? Répercussions européennes et internationales de la réunification allemande" will be the major event of the fall semester. The latter confernce, organized with the collaboration of the CEUE, the CERIUM, the Goethe-Institut and the Consulate of the Federal Republic of Germany in Montréal will bring together experts working on the question from the perspectives of political and social sciences, economics ...and sports: a special panel entitled "Et l'Allemagne réunifiée dominera le monde...du sport" will take place at the end of the conference and will examine the role of sports in German and European identity construction. Special honoured guests of the Conference will be Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada and former Minister of State of External Affairs, and Monique Garbrecht, Sprint World Champion of Speed Skating and Olympic Medalist. To take a look at the program please see our website: http://www.cceae.umontreal.ca

Finally, the CCEAE is looking forward to receiving a stream of distinguished visitors thanks to the "Short-Term Research Stay" program within the framework of the DAAD's funding program "Promoting German and European Studies in Canada." Among the visitors, who will stay in Montréal for one to three months this fall, will be Reinhard Krüger (University of Stuttgart), Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink (Universität des Saarlandes), Keith Tribe (University of Sussex), Bernd Lindner (Universities of Karlsruhe and Leipzig), Dietmar Köveker (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt), Thomas Beschorner (Adjunct Professor, Université de Montréal), Johannes Weiss (Universität Kassel).

News from Insititute for European Studies (IES) at the University of British Columbia

The Institute for European Studies at the University of British Columbia hosts two German scholars during this month.

Susanne Kost (University of Kassel) and Karin Schittenhelm (University of Siegen), as part of the IES's Visiting Scholars Program, will be in Vancouver performing research related to ongoing projects. Susanne Kost currently works as a research assistant in the department of Architecture, Urban Planning, Landscape Planning at the Institute of Empirical Planning Research (University of Kassel). In 2008 she finished her PhD on the theme 'The Making of Landscape'. Her research interests include questions about the future of landscapes, its transformation and its relationship and meaning for cities as well as forms and processes of transformation in suburban and shrinking rural areas, the development of urban and suburban landscape in an international context and cultural influences on the perception of landscape and regions. The topic of her current project is how landscape unfolds as a picture in different cultures and whether the patterns of awareness of the landscape vary from culture to culture. Cultures and social milieus will be accepted as factors which could explain possibly differing patterns. These refer to social, ethnic and specific class groups, each of which develops its own contexts and frameworks, whilst simultaneously interacting at the level of a national state. Within the context of the main question, it is also interesting how certain social perceptions have developed in different cultures. How can we explain why we perceive landscapes and their structures in other countries as being differently spatially organized as those in our own country?

Karin Schittenhelm is Professor of Sociology at the University of Siegen. Her research interests include migration research, political culture and collective memory, education and work in the life course, and methods of empirical research. During her stay in Vancouver, she will be working on a project titled 'Practices, Images and Negotiations of Social Belonging: Adolescents and young adults in multiethnic schools in Vancouver and Berlin'. This project (currently in its developmental phase) will examine the emergence and negotiation of social belonging in immigrant societies by studying different kinds of group formation among adolescents and young adults living in Vancouver and Berlin. How, under the conditions in the observed environments, do types of social belonging take shape, and how are they practiced and negotiated? Of particular interest are the kinds of frameworks that are conducive to the formation of networks in the everyday life practices or to negotiations and images of potential communities. Ethnographic fieldwork in schools in Vancouver and in Berlin will be used to demonstrate the underlying conditions for various kinds of community building.

Peter McIsaac New Director at The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies (CCGES), York University

The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies at York University is pleased to announce that Peter M. McIsaac has accepted the Centre Directorship for a three-year, renewable term beginning July 1, 2010. Peter has been a CCGES affiliate since he arrived at York University in January 2008, and his appointment signals the Centre's commitment to a strong research and outreach agenda in the coming years. Peter, who is trilingual in German, English and Spanish, has a BS in physics and German (University of Michigan, 1990) and a Ph.D. in Germanic Languages and Literature (Harvard, 1996).

McIsaac's scholarship and teaching takes place at the intersections of modern German literature and culture, Museum Studies, and Science and Technology. Among his publications are the book Museums of the Mind: German Modernity and the Dynamics of Collecting (2007), and, as co-editor, a special issue of New German Critique on contemporary German literature (2003). His articles have appeared in The German Quarterly, Monatshefte, Literatur für Leser, German Life and Letters and The International Journal of Cultural Policy. Peter is currently writing a book-length manuscript on the "secret" German pre-history to Body Worlds, a contemporary exhibition of human corpses that has broken attendance records and generated controversy around the world. In addition, he is collaborating with Prof. Gabriele Mueller, a fellow affiliate at CCGES, in developing a pan-Canadian research network around the theme "The Past on Display: Museums, Film, Memory". Peter currently serves as chair of the Modern Language Association's Division on Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture and on the editorial boards of The German Quarterly, imagination and German Politics and Society. Before coming to York he taught at Tufts, MIT, the University of Connecticut, and Duke University. In 2005, he received the he received the Richard K. Lublin Distinguished Teaching Award from Trinity College of Duke UniversityAre there publications that only members have access to? Provide your new members a list (or link to a list) of publications that they now have access to. What are some upcoming publications and release dates? Publications can be a key draw for new members. Inserting a link in your article lets you track which topics attract the most interest.

CAUTG Invitation to become a member

The German Association of University Teachers of German is an organization with members from many different areas and backgrounds: professors, instructors, teachers, students, and independent scholars. The CAUTG offers a variety of opportunities and events in which anyone interested can participate and engage.

The CAUTG holds an annual meeting in conjunction with the annual Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities. The 2011 meeting will be in May/June, at the University of New Brunswick, in Fredericton. The program is presently being planned and usually offers conference papers on areas of German literature, culture, linguistics, and language pedagogy. Please stay tuned for the call for papers that invites conference contributions to these different areas. The annual meeting also hosts guests every year - well known scholars, artists, authors, or filmmakers.

The CAUTG also publishes Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, the only scholarly journal in Canada dedicated exclusively to German studies. With the generous help of Seminar, the CAUTG awards prizes for the best dissertation and best MA thesis, alternating every year. It also awards a prize for the best Graduate student paper presented at the annual meeting. These opportunities for graduate students are intended to support our future - a new and bright generation of German scholars and teachers. I would like to extend an invitation to all of you to become CAUTG members, visit our website, and ponder the various opportunities for involvement that the CAUTG offers.

With best wishes for a pleasant and productive fall, Florentine Strzelczyk CAUTG President

 

German partners support the Europe-Canada project on managing forests for multiple values

Canada's forests represent 8% of the worlds forests, while Europe has 25% of the worlds forests. In both Canada and Europe forests provide lumber and fibre and contribute to the economy but also provide important ecological and social services. Forests sequester carbon, help to clean the air, protect soils from erosion, protect villages from landslides, provide important habitat for game and wildlife, are visually appealing, are dominant in major watershed areas, are considered highly desirable for recreation, serve as a source for non-timber products, and provide other services and values. In Germany forests are highly valued for aesthetics, recreation, habitat, and a broad range of other environmental services.

While forest management serves a wide variety of purposes, provision of these environmental services is a primary concern for forest management in Western Europe. In Canada, forests have more typically been viewed as a source of fibre and lumber, but with substantial attention being paid to the conservation of non-timber resources. Economic and social pressures will likely cause continued increases in and attention to the provision of a broader range of social and ecological services from Canadian forests. Given a longer history of forest management in Europe, and more experience with the management of forests for multiple purposes, there is substantial opportunity for Canadian students in forestry and conservation sciences to gain valuable knowledge from a transatlantic exchange program. Visits to Canada will provide opportunities for European students to learn about the conservation and management of natural forests that have received less management.

The goal of our recently approved Canada-EU Transatlantic Exchange Project is to provide participants from Europe and Canada with a broad and comprehensive understanding of forest resources, issues, and opportunities and approaches for managing forests for a broad range of values. This will help students develop skills needed to practice sustainable forest management. This partnership will enhance mutual understanding of issues and solutions, will provide experiential learning opportunities and training for students and enhance collaboration and exchange between the participating Canadian and European Universities. Over the 3 year duration of this project (2010-2013) 21 Canadian and 21 European students will participate in long term placements of one or two semesters and 30 Canadian and 30 EU students will be involved in 3 week visits. During the summer of 2011 ten or more Canadian students will be visiting Germany and 10 or more European students will visit western Canada for 3 weeks.

 If you would like more information on this project please contact: Phil Comeau at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it