Is East Going West – or Is the West Moving East?


This article discusses how the East–West boundary is renegotiated in today's unified Germany. By analyzing biographical interviews with persons born in the GDR in the 1970s, the author shows how the “East” and the “West” are given different situated meanings. The interviewees are positioned by and articulate intersecting and antagonistic discourses, thereby reifying but also challenging existing categorizations and stereotypes. Their subject positioning is an ambivalent process in which the East is described as an anachronistic but authentic “Other”, and the West is defined as a superficial consumer society or as a colonizer. The hierarchical relationship, which marks the East, but leaves the West unmarked, is thus alternately reconfirmed and questioned.


Germany, stereotypes, post-socialism, East–West boundary

How to Cite

Gerber S., (2008) “Is East Going West – or Is the West Moving East?”, Ethnologia Europaea 38(2). p.66-83. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.



Sofi Gerber (Södertörn University)





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This article has been peer reviewed.

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