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Publisher Description

Chairing the joint paper session of the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Slavists, "Recent Ethnology in Central and Eastern Europe" (St. John's, June 1997) raised my curiosity to similarly research the situation in former East Germany. This subject holds some personal interest as I was born in East Germany, but grew up in the West. Moreover, during annual visits to Germany in the early nineties I had experienced some of the exuberance of East meeting West when the Berlin Wall came down, which in subsequent years was quickly tempered by disenchantment -- for the "Wessis" [West Germans], who had to foot the bill for bringing the new provinces up to their own standard of living and working, as well as for the "Ossis" [former East Germans] who felt they were being patronized, dominated and made to feel inferior. While I was well aware that much of the initial goodwill had evaporated by 1997, I did not anticipate the extent of havoc reunification appears to have wrought among former East German academics. Compared to other areas of Central and Eastern Europe discussed in this journal, the situation in Germany is different for we are dealing with a country that was divided for over 40 years, each part following very different paths of development. After 1945, the discipline of folklore in East Germany (GDR), like other states of central and eastern Europe, came under the influence of Marxist-Leninist doctrine and the history of the working class became the major focus of research. By contrast, leading West German folklorists like Hermann Bausinger and his school of Empirische Kulturwissenschaft [Empirical Cultural Science] at the University of Tubingen moved towards the social sciences by emphasizing everyday life and problems of the contemporary world (see Dow and Lixfeld 1986).

January 1
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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