No state has ever been as identified with its borders as the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The guest editors' introduction to this special issue analyzes the development of the historiography of the borders of the GDR, showing how new approaches to the country's history have also impacted scholarship on the everyday history of the border. We argue for approaches that understand the border simultaneously as a site of conflict and cooperation and that situate the border not just alongside its geographical neighbors, but within broader flows of natural resources, pollution, narcotics, migration, and disease. Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of border studies, we argue that global approaches can help contextualize the exceptional and encourage scholars to ask new questions about which elements of GDR bordering practices were part of the globally emerging normalcy of border regimes, and which were unique to East Germany. In these ways, this special issue seeks to reveal new aspects of East German history and, in turn, make the GDR more legible within border studies.
- global history
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