Reading 1989 Globally
On the interconnectivity between Asia and the Fall of the Berlin Wall

International Conference in cooperation with the Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture, Hanyang University. Nov. 6-8, 2014

Menschen auf der Berliner Mauer im November 1989 Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, Fotobestand Uwe Gerig It is twenty-five years since the Berlin Wall fell. On a grey November night the world was enthralled by the events unfolding in  Germany’s largest city. The country and city were still divided and yet to be officially re-united. What did the crumbling of the “iron curtain”  signify for the rest of the world, which itself was still mostly divided into an Eastern and Western block?  What were the outside forces that might have facilitated the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification? Taking a distinctly Asian perspective, historians and social scientists from Asia and Europe will take a fresh look at the fall of the  Berlin Wall and 1989 as a global turning point. A transnational approach will be applied in order to gain new insights.


The paper addresses the category of global moments in its relationship to the conceptual framework of critical junctures of globalization as a useful tool for rereading global history before he comes to its application to 1989. It differentiates between three dimensions in the use of such a category. First of all it looks at the role of critical, sometimes even revolutionary rupture in longer lasting processes. These “turning points” may be important to different places and regions but not necessarily to the whole world. The second dimension of that notion that is related to the “message” or “meaning” of such a caesura across cultures, continents and power configurations is also important. What will become more and more important is a third dimension of the notion of a global moment which is related to memory. What is striking already is the fact that “1989” that was associated to so many “endings” has developed a new dimension of meaning which is related to the coloured revolutions as well as to the Arab Spring – as a new beginning in the history of emancipatory movements.
Matthias Middell is a professor in the department of history at the University of Leipzig. His main research interests include global history with emphasis on spatial configurations; cultural transfers between France and Germany as well as the history of historiography in the 19th and 20th century. Among his recent publications includes Self-Reflexive Area Studies (2013), and Transnational Challenges to National History Writing.
This article aims to explore the selective use of the German past of the Nazi regime during and after the 1989 June Fourth Movement at Tiananmen Square from the perspective of transcultural memory making. During the movement, the pro-democracy protesters manipulated many “foreign” pasts to rationalize their sacred cause and to discredit the official oppression. Among many, they recalled the German “ghosts” of Nazi in their posters, handbills, and underground newsletters in order to describe the PRC government as a totalitarian dictator regime. In the post-Wall period, in order to call for official rehabilitation of the June Fourth Movement, pro-democracy advocates would on the one hand compare the PRC government’s military suppression of the June Fourth Movement to the Nazi regime’s injustice, and, on the other hand, urge the PRC government to learn lessons from the German overcoming with their national trauma of the Nazi Holocaust. In 1989 and after, we see the memory making of the transculturally selective use of the German past around Tiananmen for the Chinese sake.

Tsung-Yi Pan is a specialist in the field of memory studies. He is especially interested in exploring the material and spatial foundation of the construction of Chinese official memory and national identity. He is conducting a national project concerning the construction of national memorial spaces in capital cities, such as the “Memory District” in Taipei, Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Red Square in Moscow, Lincoln Memorial in D.C., and Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul.
On January 7th, 1989, Hirohito, the Emperor Showa, died. Since his enthronement in 1926, he ruled Japan for twenty years with limitless power. Even after Japan’s defeat in 1945, Hirohito remained on the throne for forty-four more years as a “symbol” of Japanese democracy and peace. It might be a mere coincidence that both the fall of the Berlin Wall and the death of Hirohito happened in the same year, 1989. On the other hand, considering that it was the Cold War world order that enabled Hirohito’s continuous reign without being held responsible for the devastating warfare, the two incidents entail a symbolic meaning. In an attempt to overcome the bleak postwar history that began with defeat and occupation, the death of Emperor Showa became a turning point from which Japan began constructing its new national identity. This presentation attempts to shed light on the new development and conflicts concerning the reconstruction of Japan’s national identity by focusing on the process of the designation of Showa Day.
Younghae Han is a professor of Japanese Studies at Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University. Her research interests are civil society, collective memory, diaspora and identity. She is the author of several books including Tokyo Metropolice: civil society, disparity, ethnicity (editor, co-author, 2012), Multicultural Japan and Identity Politics (co-author, 2010), Japanese Community and Grassroot Social Movement (2004), Understanding Contemporary Japanese Society (2001).
The collapse of the Cold War system provided a good opportunity for South Korea not only to expand its market to the former communist area, but to improve relationship with her traditional enemy, North Korea and China. As a result, trade size was increased dramatically and new relationship with North Korea and China was started since 1989. However, at the same time, strong conservative idea with statism was emerged since 1989. A terror as well as publication by the conservative groups were started shortly since 1989. This paper would like to examine what triggered this phenomena and what would happened since 1989 in Korean politics and academia. 
Tae Gyun Park is a professor of Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University. He was also a visiting fellow and special student at Harvard-Yenching Institute. His most recent publication includes An Ally and Empire, US Korea Relationship between 1945 and 1980 (2013).
The representative post-war Japanese "foku" (folk song as a genre of J-Pop song), the "Children Who Don't Know War” premiered at the Expo '70 (Osaka) in 1970, and was sung as an antiwar song in conjunction with the anti-Vietnam War movement at the same time. However, this song suggested not only a longing for world peace by the war inexperienced generation, but also the generational conflict between the "Adults Who Know War" and themselves. In Japan, the year 1995 was the biggest turning point in terms of structural transformation after 1989 because of the Great Hanshin earthquake and the Tokyo subway sarin attack carried out by the cult group, Aum Shinrikyo. Twenty five years later, the young people known as "Children Who Don't Know War" turned to the right, toward the rehabilitation of their Grand fathers ’honor from their war responsibilities. I will examine the meaning of this drastic turn in the war recognition of the younger generation as well as their postwar recognition.
Hideto Tsuboi, Dr. (1959-) is a Japanese literary and cultural scholar, Professor of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, whose publication includes Fest of Voices: Modern Japanese Poetry and War (University of Nagoya Press, 1997), Modernity of the Sensibilities: Voice, Body and Representation (University of Nagoya Press, 2006), and Sexuality Speaks: Sex/Gender and Body in the Literature in Twentieth-Century Japan (University of Nagoya Press, 2012).
Despite the global nature of the so-called ‘third wave’ of democratisation of the late 20th century, our knowledge of how these developments were connected across regions is still limited. Although much work has been done on these processes in different regional contexts, and comparative work carried out on post-authoritarian transitions and memories, there has yet to be any sustained scholarship that examines the ‘entangledness’ of these changes in the context of global processes of the late Cold War and its aftermath. This paper will explore the case of eastern Europe. Drawing both on my own research in Hungary and other examples drawn from the region, this paper will explore additional areas of influence: how did a range of actors – from politicians, to economic experts and dissidents – place themselves within a transformation which was happening globally? How did knowledge of, and practices derived from, areas which had undergone, or were undergoing, major transformations shape eastern European actors’ understandings of change within their own societies, and influence processes of transformation?
James Mark is a Professor of History at the University of Exeter, UK. He is author of The Unfinished Revolution, Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe (Yale, 2010), and co-author of Europe’s 1968, Voices of Revolt (OUP, 2013) and Che in Budapest, and Global Revolution in the Eastern Bloc (in preparation).
When students occupied Tiananmen Square in May of 1989, the Western Media read it as a democracy movement and a sign for the coming collapse of Communist rule in China. However, the CCP (Communist Party of China) is still in power today.  25 years after the so-called “June 4-Incident”, the paper will compare the student movement of 1989 with the social movements in 1957 and 1966. All three movements broke out against the background of a split in the central leadership of the CCP and a crisis of state socialism in Eastern Europe. Building on discussions about social movements, the paper will work out patterns of protest in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) from the 1950s to the 1980s. Furthermore, it will be shown why the conflicts between state and society ended in violence. It is clear that events in Eastern Europe had an important impact on China. However, the nature of the protests and Communist rule seems to be different. Last but not least, the paper will explain how the CCP survived the crisis of 1989.

Felix Wemheuer is professor for Modern China Studies at the University of Cologne. He published several articles and books on the Mao era and the Great Leap Forward Famine. In 2014, Yale University Press published his monograph Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union.
As one of the three divided states bequeathed from the cold war era, Taiwan was impacted by the fall of the Berlin War in paradoxical ways. The unification of the FRG and the GDR did arouse a wave of heated discussions on demilitarizing Taiwan’s relation with the People’s Republic of China; yet in the next decade or so, we also witness the rising tide of the separationist stream which sought to solve the “divided statehood” conundrum with a declaration of Taiwan’s independence. Furthermore, if the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakdown of the Eastern European bloc demoralized the leftist forces worldwide, a segment of Taiwan’s left audaciously its fate to the ultimate unification with the PRC, a highly unpopular political choice that delegitimized the left’s pursuits of distributive justice and social equity. This paper uses public records, news archives, and left-wing publications to unravel the contradictory undercurrents between the Taiwanese nationalism and class politics.

Hwa-Jen Liu is an associate professor of sociology at the National Taiwan University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and a post-doctoral fellowship from the Fairbank Center of Harvard University. Her research interests include social movements, late industrialization, historical/comparative, and social theory.
The year 1989 marks a seismic shift in the Cold War system of the postwar world. Freed from the yoke of the Manichean politics of the global Cold War, the post-1989 historical imagination shed new lights to the perceived reality of the past through a transnationally, trans-regionally & trans-continentally envisioned future. That explains why Historikerstreit mushroomed in the post-1989 global politics. Mass dictatorship represents one of those Historikerstreite triggered by the post-1989 historical imagination. Liberated from the Manichean demonology of dictatorship, colonialism, genocide and collective guilt, mass dictatorship urged an iconoclastic historical imagination of the twentieth century past and provoked a sharp Historikerstreit in South Korea in 1999. As a person who initiated the mass dictatorship controversy, I will try an ego history-cum-global history of historiography in investigating mass dictatorship in the context of the seismic shift of the global intellectual climate since 1989. The trace of the mass dictatorship debate in South Korea and its transnational echoes exemplify the entangled history of 1989 in the dimension of the historical imagination and global intellectual history.
Jie-Hyun Lim is a professor at the department of history at Hanyang University, South Korea. He is a director of Research Institute of Comparative History and Culture, Hanyang University. His publication includes Imperial Arrogance and Colonial Prejudice dialogue with Sakai Naoki (2009) and Antagonistic Complicity (2005). He is an editor of Mass Dictatorship in the Twentieth Century series (Palgrave).

Lecture recording

Matthias Middell (University of Leipzig, Germany): "1989 as a global moment?"
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Tsung-Yi Pan (National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan): "Recalling the Native and Alien “Ghosts” around Tiananmen in 1989: A Transnational Perspective of Memory Making"
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Hideto Tsuboi (International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Japan): „1995 as Turning Point: Debates over Historical Perceptions in Post Cold-War Japan“
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Hwa-Jen Liu (National Taiwan University, Taiwan): „As the Wall Fell, Are We Still Separated by the Sea? Taiwanese Identity and Class Politics in the Post-1989 Era“
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Jie-Hyun Lim (Hanyang University, Südkorea): „Mass Dictatorship in Post-1989 Historical Imagination“
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