Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

10/1/2006 - 8/31/2007

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

A History of East German Private Life

FAIN: FB-52502-06

Paul R. Betts
University of Sussex (Brighton BN1 9QN England)

My proposed research project is a study of private life in East Germany from the late 1940s to the regime’s collapse in 1989. It argues that despite the primacy of prescribed public identities, the private sphere--family life, individual leisure, interior decor and domestic forms of religious belief--assumed central political importance in the German Democratic Republic from the very outset, and was particularly pronounced in the regime’s former capital city. While some of this had to do with East Berlin’s special status as a Cold War showpiece of “socialist modernity,” it was also closely connected to the common notion of the domicile as a cherished arena of individual freedom amid an otherwise heavily regulated social order.