The Berlin Wall: 30 Years Later

Part of the University of Richmond’s School of Arts and Sciences Contested Spaces: This Ground.

Event Details

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | 7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
University of Richmond, Weinstein Hall, Brown Alley Room

This roundtable commemorates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – one of the most significant events in the history of the modern world – which occurred on November 9, 1989. On the global scale, the Berlin Wall was the physical and the psychological symbol of the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, and the clash between capitalism and communism. On the national scale, the wall separated socialist East Germany from capitalist West Germany for 40 years, tearing families apart on both sides.

The Berlin Wall remains highly relevant today: in the 30 years since 1989, we have witnessed a substantial increase in the number of border walls being constructed across the globe, with immigration and border policing emerging as some of the most polarizing political issues of our time. The roundtable will feature short talks by several UR professors: Dr. Kathrin Bower and Dr. Katrina Nousek from German Studies, Dr. Michelle Kahn from History, and Dr. Margaret Dorsey from Sociology/Anthropology.


Kathrin Bower is Professor and Coordinator of German Studies and an Associate Dean in the School of Arts & Sciences. Her scholarship focusses on identity and belonging in 20th and 21st century Germany, with publications on German-Jewish Holocaust poetry, integration comedy and Turkish-German political satire, East/West German relations after unification, and the coalescence of class, ethnicity, and precarity in German trash comedy.

Katrina L. Nousek's research focuses on narrative structures of temporality in contemporary literature about globalization and postsocialism. Her wider teaching and research interests include environmental humanities, visual culture, migration, and narrative studies. She is currently working on The Vanishing Point of the Future, a book that analyzes futurity in literary migration narratives about postsocialism in Europe.

Michelle Lynn Kahn is an Assistant Professor of History. She is a historian of Modern Europe with a particular interest in transnational connections, migration, race, gender, sexuality, and human rights. She is currently researching a new project on Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, and right-wing extremism in East and West Germany since 1945. Her doctoral dissertation, completed at Stanford University, was awarded the 2019 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize from the German Historical Institute.

Margaret Dorsey is an Associate Professor of Anthropology. She was a Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at Brooklyn College and Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) as well as founding curator of UTRGV's Border Studies Archive. She completed an Ethel-Jane Westfeld Bunting Fellowship at the School for Advanced Research. Her research focuses on border security, Mexican American folklore and border studies more generally.