On Monday, the first day NSU summer session, Molly Andrew, a professor of Political Psychology and Co-ordinator of the Center for Narrative Research at the University of East London, took us to the history with her fascinating presentation titled: Activist Lives Over Time. Her presentation brings the audience in the time of the East German ‘bloodless revolution’ of 1989 by discussing the struggle of political activists´ and their engagement in the battle for a new Germany.
Molly draws the experiences of those activists´ after the fall of Berlin Wall. 20 years later from this historical event, she meets and interviews them once again. Looking back at the history most of the interviewees conclude that what they did in the past was something unforgettable. The fall of the Berlin Wall was a moment of, as they put it “full of joy.” Their political activism, even after 20 years later, is seen as a positive event in their life, which they never regret. Nostalgia as such is not so much a longing for why things were or the willingness not to be who they were at certain time of history, rather to be their potential future themselves. In other words, nostalgia is a way to understand their future by looking at their history.
For many of the audience, Molly´s presentation was moving and deeply touching. They are looking forward to hearing her next presentation and so do I.
In 1989 a group of GDR activists turned to be in the center of the historical events, which were triggered by their protest movement. Some of them were ready to that, others had no idea what they should do after the fall of the Berlin wall. Molly Andrew interviewed some them in 1992 and 20 years later she offered them to reflect of their words in order to explore whether the activism can be sustained. Most of the respondents were recognizing their positions and opinions and shared the values of young themselves, although, they all mentioned, that they turned to be same but different after the years of experience. How does it feel to listen to own interview about your key values which were given 20 years ago? What if everyone had a recording from 20 years ago, how would they reflect on that?
Andrew created unique material for research, which can be still analyzed many times in future. She mentioned that narration mediates between real, not-real and not-yet-real. Truth changes over the time shaping itself to our vision of possible life. I think that in order to experience this effect all of us have to make a large interview about our own values right today and revise it 20 years later, because if we don’t make them now, 20 years will pass anyway.
Lucas Cardiell and Anna Semenova-Ganz
Photo by Sara Ibáñez O’ Donell