Salon Series: "Sustainable Utopias: The Art and Politics of Hope in Germany"
Join Jennifer Allen, Yale University, who will present her book, Sustainable Utopias: The Art and Politics of Hope in Germany (Harvard University Press, 2022) in converstion with Stephen Gross, New York University, Silke Mende, University of Münster, Charity Scribner, CUNY Grad Center, and moderated by Stefanos Geroulanos, NYU Remarque Institute.
Jennifer Allen showcases grassroots activism of the 1980s and 1990s that envisioned a radically different society based on community-centered politics—a society in which the democratization of culture and power ameliorated alienation and resisted the impotence of end-of-history narratives. Berlin’s History Workshop liberated research from university confines by providing opportunities for ordinary people to write and debate the story of the nation. The Green Party made the politics of direct democracy central to its program. Artists changed the way people viewed and acted in public spaces by installing objects in unexpected environments, including the Stolpersteine: paving stones, embedded in residential sidewalks, bearing the names of Nazi victims. These activists went beyond just trafficking in ideas. They forged new infrastructures, spaces, and behaviors that gave everyday people real agency in their communities. Undergirding this activism was the environmentalist concept of sustainability, which demanded that any alternative to existing society be both enduring and adaptable.
A rigorous but inspiring tale of hope in action, Sustainable Utopias makes the case that it is still worth believing in human creativity and the labor of citizenship.
This program is co-sponsored by the NYU Brademas Center and the NYU Remarque Institute. Registration is required in order to receive the Zoom log-in details for the webinar, and this program may be recorded.
The book is available for purchase at Harvard University Press.
Friday, April 1, 2022
12:30 pm ET Webinar Start
2:00 pm ET Webinar End
NYU Brademas Center
Jennifer L. Allen, Associate Professor of History, Yale University
Jennifer L. Allen is Associate Professor of History at Yale University. Her work, which focuses on the cultural history of modern Germany, has been supported by the American Academy in Berlin, the Volkswagen and Mellon foundations, and the Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich. She is the author of Sustainable Utopias: The Art and Politics of Hope in Germany. Allen’s second book project, Insurance Against Total Destruction: A Postwar History of German Plans to Save the World, analyzes postwar German efforts to archive the raw materials needed to rebuild national and international cultures after total catastrophe.
Stefanos Geroulanos, Professor of European Intellectual History; Executive Director, Remarque Institute, NYU
Stefanos Geroulanos is Professor of European Intellectual History at New York University and Executive Director of the Remarque Institute. He usually writes about concepts that weave together modern understandings of the human, time, and the body. He is working on a book on the history of conceptions of human origins since 1770 (under contract with Liveright), and a short book on Napoleon and the institution of the Civil Code in France. He is the author or co-author of 4 books: Transparency in Postwar France: A Critical History of the Present (2017), The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe (with Todd Meyers, 2018), Experimente im Individuum (with Todd Meyers, 2014), and An Atheism that is not Humanist Emerges in French Thought (2010).
Stephen G. Gross, Department of History, Center for European and Mediterranean Studies, NYU
Stephen G. Gross is jointly based at the Department of History and the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU. In his research and teaching Dr. Gross is interested in 20th century Germany, European unification, European and international political economy, energy policy, and international relations. His first book, Export Empire, was published by Cambridge University Press in December 2015.
Silke Mende, Professor, History Department, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Silke Mende is a modern historian with a focus on contemporary history, particularly German, French and European history from the 19th to the 21st century. She is Professor in the History Department of the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, and is also an associated researcher at the Center Marc Bloch. Her current research project deals with the European history of democracy and parliamentarism in the last third of the 20th century. It asks about the connection between democratization, parliamentarization and Europeanization in the context of Europe's southern and eastern enlargement.
Charity Scribner, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Graduate Center, CUNY
Charity Scribner teaches and writes about European culture. She is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at CUNY Graduate Center. Her publications include After the Red Army Faction: Gender, Culture, and Militancy (Columbia 2014), Requiem for Communism (MIT 2003), and articles for the New Left Review, Critical Inquiry, and Grey Room.