David Barclay, the Margaret and Roger Scholten Professor of International Studies, delivered a lecture titled “Island City, Cold War City: West Berlin in the Context of Postwar History, 1948-1994” at his undergraduate alma mater, the University of Florida.
The presentation was based on his current book project: a general history of West Berlin from the time of the city’s division (1948) to the withdrawal of Russian and Allied troops (1994).
The history of West Berlin—a unique creation of the Cold War, like the two German states themselves—has largely been overlooked.
Barclay’s lecture drew on extensive interviews and years of archival research and argued that, in the wake of the well-known “spatial turn” of the 1990s and thereafter, West Berlin’s role in the history of the Cold War can be understood in terms of that truncated city’s function as political space, symbolic space, and cultural space. Moreover, its history can be divided into two parts: an “heroic” phase from 1948 to 1971-72 and a phase of “abnormal normality” from 1972 to 1989.