K’s David Barclay is a Peripatetic Scholar

In recent months David Barclay (Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies, Department of History) has made a variety of presentations in several different venues. In November 2012 he spoke on “Music and Cold War Politics in West Berlin” at the Max Kade Center for German and European Studies at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee). While at Vanderbilt Barclay was able to talk with Professor Edward Friedman, one of the world’s most distinguished Cervantes scholars, who taught at K in the 1970s. He also talked with Peter Collins, son of the late Professor David Collins, who taught French at K for many years. Later that month Barclay presented a paper on “Preussen in amerikanischer und europaeischer Sicht” (“European and American Views of Prussia”) at a conference of the Otto von Bismarck Foundation in Potsdam, Germany. In February 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas, he delivered a banquet address on “Myth, Memory, and the Legacies of 1813” at the 42nd annual conference of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. In early May he will address the Southwest Michigan Association of Phi Beta Kappa by asking “’Why on Earth Do You Study German History?’ How I Try to Answer That Question.” Barclay also recently signed a contract with Princeton University Press to publish his next book, Cold War City: West Berlin 1948-1994, in 2017.

Barclay recently published an article (“A ’Complicated Contrivance’: West Berlin behind the Wall, 1971-1989”) in a volume titled Walls, Borders, Boundaries: Spatial and Cultural Practices in Europe edited by Marc Silberman, Karen Till, and Janet Ward. It’s just been reviewed in the journal Society and Space — Environment and Planning. The reviewer wrote: “In chapter 6 (’A complicated contrivance’) David Barclay draws together Berlin’s material histories with its alternative aesthetic potentialities. His account revisits Berlin behind the wall as a site of drama and epic personalities–the epicentre of the Cold War–together with the gradual demographic hollowing and cultures of experimentation fostered by the Allied occupation. The ‘oddly dialectical relationship’ between the Allies’ presence and the emergent, ’curious’ socio-political cultures of West Berlin (page 125) hinge upon the immense shadow of the Wall, which, all the same, formed an increasingly invisible backdrop like another ’piece of furniture’ (page 122). Perhaps more than any other chapter Barclay’s essay illuminates how the maintenance of ordinary life can have enduring and unpredictable effects. Against the backdrop of the wall, politically alternative cultures have survived in Berlin like perhaps nowhere else in Europe. These include new kinds of tactical subversion such as squatting and anarchist direct action. Subversion and the reproduction of walls are shown to inflect one another.”