This important book traces the evolution of grassroots social movement in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and reveals the democratically spirited, subversive forms of communication that were practiced behind the Wall before it fell on November 9, 1989. From the political jokes that were shared in private, to the informational events, small group work, underground publications, and weekly "peace prayers" that were sheltered by Evangelical-Lutheran churches, to the demonstrations of 1989, to the onslaught of exposé work after the fall of the Wall, East Germans resisted and rebelled against the state in a number of humble but rhetorically brilliant ways. Working from firsthand interviews and other primary source materials, Kerry Kathleen Riley brings listeners closer to the people who helped bring down the Wall and heightens our appreciation for the subversive impact of everyday political communication.
Here we see how speech, social interactions, and rudimentary print materials can keep democratic sensibilities alive for a populace while courageous individuals do the painstaking work of opening up the space, both physical and rhetorical, for social change to occur. We see the power of a private political culture, the role that can be played by churches, the importance of small group activities to social movements, the crucial work of intermediaries and "hidden hands," and the step-by-step winning of the street for political action. We also see what happens to the hard-earned tradition of GDR truth-telling when the East German story is finally open to all.
The book is published by Michigan State University Press.
"This is an important book." (Jay Mechling, University of California, Davis)
"This account of dissent in a non-democratic context makes a significant contribution to our understanding of rhetoric and social change." (Richard A. Cherwitz, University of Texas-Austin)
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