The American Academy in Berlin will welcome its fall 2016 class of fellows on September 15, 2016, at the Hans Arnhold Center. The evening will begin with introductory remarks by Mazen Darwish, President of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. The fall 2016 fellows will explore an array of projects and topics—some, but by no means all, directly related to Germany. Projects include the first book-length comparative study of environmentalism in Cold War Germany; the rebuilding of Kreuzberg after the Fall of the Wall; a screenplay inspired by an American intelligence project that recruited German scientists and brought them to the US at the end of World War II; and the use of public-art interventions to raise politically inflected questions.
Artwork by Alex Katz, detail from "Berlin," 2003
In this lecture, noted polling expert Douglas Rivers will discuss the 2016 US Presidential election campaign and the outpouring of anger it has witnessed across the political spectrum. In both the Democratic and Republican Presidential primaries, many voters rejected “establishment” choices and supported outsiders such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. What is the source of this widespread discontent? Is it primarily an economic phenomenon, related to disruptions caused by inequality, trade, and immigration? Or is it more a cultural phenomenon, reflecting psychological rather than material factors? What particular strengths and weaknesses do the candidates possess such that their message resonates so widely?
As people, artifacts, capital, images, and information travel in the age of global connections, the “open” has justifiably become a common metaphor in daily language. Esra Akcan's lecture defines openness as a foundational modern value albeit prone to contradictions, and open architecture as the translation of the ethics of hospitality into architecture. It particularly focuses on a single street corner in Berlin, at Checkpoint Charlie, where the stories of an Italian architect, a Spanish architect collective, a Turkish guest worker and a Kurdish refugee met during the time of Kreuzberg’s urban renewal in the 1980s. This case will be treated both as an example of the IBA’1984/87—a building exhibition of mostly social housing -- for which the Berlin Senate invited a large number of established and cutting-edge international architects, and as a prism of the notion of open architecture as collectivity.
The American Academy in Berlin is now accepting applications from emerging as well as established scholars, writers, and professionals who wish to engage in independent study in Berlin in the academic year 2017/2018. The deadline for applications is September 30, 2016, at 12 noon EST. Begin the application here.
In this lecture, Nobel-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz offers insights and arguments from his latest book, The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe (Norton, 2016; German release as Europa spart sich kaputt, published by Siedler in September 2016). In 2010, the 2008 global financial crisis had morphed into the “Eurocrisis.” Since then, some countries have remained in an economic depression, while the governing powers of the Eurozone have careened from emergency to emergency, most notably in Greece. Although the euro was hailed by its architects as a lever that would bring Europe together and promote prosperity, it has actually, Stiglitz argues, done the opposite: promoted divergence rather than convergence. Europe’s economic stagnation and drab outlook are a result of the fundamental challenges facing a diverse group of countries that share a common currency, where economic unification has outpaced political integration. Stiglitz outlines three possible ways forward: fundamental reforms to the structure of the Eurozone and the policies imposed on member countries; a well-managed end to the single-currency experiment; or a bold, new system dubbed the “flexible euro.”
In cooperation with
In this lecture, Mary Ann Doane examines the concept of scale and its increasing centrality to analysis of the work of the image in contemporary culture. Scale is a concept that crosses disciplines; it is a crucial construct in geography, art history, cartography, and music, among other practices and disciplines. Space and its representation have been central to the cinema, too, but the investigation of its ramifications in relation to spectatorship require further examination—of both intra-cinematic scale and, more broadly, the extra-cinematic scale of the national and the global, and its function in commodity capitalism.
The origins of the Mandæans as a distinct religious community and their early history remain shrouded in myth and legend. The primary source for the early history of the Mandæans is the Scroll of Inner Harran, a collection of legends that detail their settlement in a territory identified as “Inner Harran” (Haran Gauaita), sometime during the first century CE. In this lecture, Charles Häberl examines the potential geographical locations of “Inner Harran” and evaluates them in light of existing sources on the oral and written geographies of the region.
In May of 2012, Janine di Giovanni, the Middle East editor of Newsweek, travelled to Syria, beginning what would become of a long relationship with the country. She began reporting from both sides of the Syrian conflict, witnessing its descent into one of the most brutal internecine conflicts in recent history. Drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught up in the fighting, di Giovanni became consumed by Syria. In her new book, The Morning They Came for Us, she relays the personal stories of rebel fighters thrown in jail at the least provocation; of children and families forced to watch loved ones taken and killed by regime forces with dubious justifications; and the stories of the elite, holding pool parties in Damascus hotels, trying to deny the human consequences of the nearby shelling. The Morning They Came for Us is an unflinching account of a nation on the brink of disintegration, charting an apocalyptic but at times tender story of life in a jihadist war – and an unforgettable testament to human resilience in the face of devastating, unimaginable horrors.
In cooperation with S. Fischer Verlage
The Greening of Cold War Germany: Environmentalism and Social Movements across the Wall and Beyond, 1968–1989
In this lecture, Timothy Brown describes a dramatic change in the nature of German leftist politics in the 1970s and 1980s. In this moment of transition, older notions of revolution rooted in Marxist internationalism gave way to a new holistic vision of humankind’s relationship to nature. Linking the emergence of Green politics to the participatory-democracy impulses of 1968, Brown charts how 1968’s anti-authoritarianism merged with anti-hierarchical impulses from second-wave feminism, holistic New Age spirituality, and influences from systems trends in fields like ecology, biology, and physics. Brown assesses the rise of the Greens not only in political but also in intellectual and philosophical terms.