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“Feeling German”: Migration and Ethnic Identity in a Cold War Borderland

September 12, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

This event is a presentation from the winner of the Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History 2019.

Winner: STEFANIE M. WOODARD | Kennesaw State University, Department of History & Philosophy
Presentation on Thursday, 12 September 2019 in UNC Global Education Center 4003 | 5:30 – 7:00 PM

Between 1970 and 1990, approximately 835,000 ethnic German Aussiedler migrated from Poland to West Germany. Most of these “resettlers” hailed from Upper Silesia, a borderland in western Poland. Although scholars have frequently described Silesians as nationally indifferent or ethnically ambiguous, the Cold War thrust them into the center of a clash over ethnicity and memory. Whereas the Polish government downplayed or denied the Silesians’ German heritage, West German authorities cast these borderlanders as “sufferers for Germanness” and the last victims of World War II. Not simply the passive subjects of Cold War discourse, Silesians also catapulted themselves into the ethnicity debate. The resettlers’ borderland context enabled them to invoke their German ethnicity to receive privileged-immigrant status in West Germany or, later, to lobby for cultural rights in Poland. This talk, thus, highlights how an ethnically-coded conflict over victimhood and memory shaped not only the lives of individual émigrés from Silesia, but also West German-Polish relations as a whole.

STEFANIE M. WOODARD is a Limited Term Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University. She received her PhD in May 2019 from Emory University.

Moderator: JAMES CHAPPEL | Duke University, Department of History

A workshop on Friday, September 13, will follow this presentation. Visit the event page for more information on the “Writing Workshop for History Graduate Students: How to Prepare a Manuscript for the Publication in a Journal like Central European History?”

This event is part of the North Carolina German Studies Workshop and Seminar Series.

The conveners of the NCGS series are Carolina Seminars, the Duke Department of Germanic Languages & Literature, the Duke Department of History, the UNC-CH Center for European Studies, the UNC-CH Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures, the UNC-CH Department of History.

Please visit these guidelines for information on weeknight parking on campus.

About the Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History:

The North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series is proud to announce the inauguration of the Konrad Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students. In recognition of the longstanding commitment to graduate education of Konrad H. Jarausch, who is the Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the History Department of the University of North Carolina, this prize will serve to celebrate and cultivate outstanding new talent in the field of Central European history.

The prize will award the best article or chapter-length piece of writing by a current graduate student working in the field of Central European history. The recipient of this prize will receive an honorarium of $500 and an invitation to present his or her work at the North Carolina German Studies Seminar (NCGS), which is held on Thursday evenings at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. We will cover the costs for travel (economy class), hotel accommodation and dinner. This will allow an opportunity for feedback and close attention from an interdisciplinary group of experts. Prizewinners will be encouraged but not required to submit their revised essay for publication.

The NCGS series was started in 2007 by an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional group of scholars in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, which is home to nationally and internationally recognized graduate programs in German Studies. The series has traditionally emphasized graduate education. This prize, which will be awarded annually, is meant to both honor and further that legacy.

Eligibility requirements:

  • PhD student enrolled at a North American university including any university in North Carolina
  • Must not have defended dissertation before 30 April 2019
  • Plans to be resident in North America during the 2019-20 academic year

Requirements for the proposal:

  • Two-page statement describing the outlines of your project, its state of completion, and what you hope to gain by presenting at the seminar.
  • CV
  • Writing sample, ideally a chapter from the dissertation, of between 7000 and 10000 words (not including notes).

Decisions were made by a three-person committee, and announced at the beginning of June. Any questions about the process or the opportunity can be addressed to Dr. James Chappel (

Access the full PDF of the Call for Proposals.


September 12, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


FedEx Global Center #4003
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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NC German Studies Seminar & Workshop Series
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