The history of the subject, or, in a different parlance, genealogies of the self, has received increased attention in recent years. Numerous scholars, historians and cultural sociologists alike have inquired about the practices and discourses that shape the (post-)modern self. And while this is by no means an exclusively German debate – indeed, major influences come from French, British and Israeli scholarship –, it is a debate that is particularly thriving within German-speaking scholarship on recent (West) German history, perhaps in part due to how graduate training and networking function in German academia. Somewhat remarkably, East German subjectivities are barely ever addressed in this debate, which speaks to the fact that historiographies of East and West Germany are still rather separated, despite repeated calls to overcome this division. A possible historical (rather than historiographical) reason for this lack of interest that would deserve further inquiry might be that the self became important for historical actors in the Federal Republic during the 1970s, but not in East Germany. It would be equally interesting to know to what extent similar or different regimes of subjectivity emerged across the Iron Curtain and what happened to them after the end of communism – that is, if and how the ‘neoliberal’ regime of subjectivity that scholars have described for Western Germany spread to the East. Yet, these are open questions.
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