Events

A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin

Fall 2017 History Colloquium Series

The Kinder Institute will host writer and political analyst Paul Hockenos on October 9 for a talk on his most recent book, Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin (The New Press, May 2017). Free and open to the public, the talk will be held at 3:30 PM in Jesse Hall 410.

Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin

Berlin has long had a reputation for its off-beat mystique and powerful allure, drawing an array of underground artists, punk rock and techno connoisseurs, and DIY political activists into its city limits. From free-love communes to the era of amphetamine-fueled techno clubs, it’s a city of charisma and innovation. So how and why did Berlin become the vibrant world capital of eccentric subculture?

American journalist and former Berlin resident Paul Hockenos moved to West Berlin in the 1980s and has watched it change over more than three decades. In Berlin Calling, he delves into Berlin’s tendency toward reinvention and its ability to “posit itself anew many times over”—a quality he attributes to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Wall, Hockenos writes, was the foremost symbol of a divided Europe. In its shadows cropped up inevitable micro-countercultures. In sequestered West Berlin, residents began to innovate in art, music, and lifestyle; in East Berlin, an underground democratic political and cultural opposition began to take hold. When the Wall fell in 1989, East and West collided and launched a heyday of experimentation and creation.

Berlin Calling brings the post-Cold War city to life through a flamboyant cast of characters including David Bowie and Iggy Pop, as well as lesser-known Wall painters and underground designers, club owners, industrial rock bands, and anarchist dissidents. A vibrant and evocative portrait of a city in transition, Berlin Calling tells the story of the staggering contradictions that make Berlin feel consistently creative and new.

 

Paul Hockenos received his B.A. in Political Science at Skidmore College, and his M.A. in Social and Political Thought at University of Sussex, and he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Foreign Policy, among other publications. He is the author of numerous books including Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin (The New Press, 2017); Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic: An Alternate History of Postwar Germany (Oxford University Press, 2007); and Homeland Calling: Exile Patriotism and the Balkan Wars (Cornell University Press, 2003).