What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany by Jonathan BachWhat Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany by Jonathan Bach

What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in Germany

byJonathan Bach

Hardcover | August 29, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 204 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


What happens when an entire modern state's material culture becomes abruptly obsolete? How do ordinary people encounter what remains? In this ethnography, Jonathan Bach examines the afterlife of East Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall, as things and places from that vanished socialist past continue to circulate and shape the politics of memory.

What Remains traces the unsettling effects of these unmoored artifacts on the German present, arguing for a rethinking of the role of the everyday as a site of reckoning with difficult pasts. Bach juxtaposes four sites where the stakes of the everyday appear: products commodified as nostalgia, amateur museums dedicated to collecting everyday life under socialism, the "people's palace" that captured the national imagination through its destruction, and the feared and fetishized Berlin Wall. Moving from the local, the intimate, and small to the national, the impersonal, and large, this book's interpenetrating chapters show the unexpected social and political force of the ordinary in the production of memory. What Remains offers a unique vantage point on the workings of the everyday in situations of radical discontinuity, contributing to new understandings of postsocialism and the intricate intersection of material remains and memory.

Jonathan Bach is associate professor and chair of global studies at The New School. He is the author of Between Sovereignty and Integration: German Foreign Policy and National Identity After 1989 (1999).
Title:What Remains: Everyday Encounters with the Socialist Past in GermanyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pagesPublished:August 29, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231182708

ISBN - 13:9780231182706

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. "The Taste Remains"2. Collecting Communism3. Unbuilding4. The Wall After the WallEpilogue: Exit GhostNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

What Remains is a perceptive and - perhaps more crucially - a very sympathetic account of multiple ways through which ordinary people try to take hold of their politically controversial past. Bach creates an intricate but highly accessible story about the past that is not quite gone.