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Frank Biess
Regents of the University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA 92093-0013)
Fear and Democracy in West Germany during the Cold War

A book-length study on fear and democracy in West Germany.

Drawing on multidisciplinary research on emotions, my project explains how recurrent waves of fear and anxiety shaped the history of West Germany and influenced the process of democratization from the 1940s through the 1980s. It challenges dominant teleological narratives of the Federal Republic's successful postwar stabilization and "arrival in the West" by taking seriously Germans' own apprehensions of their imagined futures. Based on a series of empirically rich case studies, the project analyzes the shifting objects of fear and anxiety, as well as the changing norms governing the experience and expression of these emotions. A synthetic analysis draws these cases together to offer a unique perspective on the development of the Federal Republic—one that underlines the importance of emotions for understanding the process of historical change. An epilogue analyzes the implications of the history of fear and anxiety before 1989 for the political culture of post-unification Germany.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural History; European History; Political History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018