Alternative Realities: Utopian Thought in Times of Political Rupture

April 16 - 17, 2018
Conference at The Wende Museum at The Armory, Culver City, California and the University of Southern California (USC)

Co-sponsored by GHI West, the Pacific Regional Office of  German Historical Institute Washington DC, and organized by The Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies (USC) and The Wende Museum

Modern history has been marked by periodic ruptures, radical changes brought on by wars, revolutionary upheaval, or sudden political shifts that shattered existing social and political structures and belief systems. No country has experienced this more profoundly than Germany, which has witnessed five regimes across the past 100 years and experienced both the heights of national euphoria and the depths of physical and moral defeat and destruction in the twentieth century. During times of fundamental change, cultural ideas and expressions pave the way for the imagination of a new order. This conference focuses on the key role of utopian visions, both artistic and intellectual, that changed the world from the twentieth century to the present day.

The Wende Museum was founded by Justinian Jampol, a native of Los Angeles. During the 1990s, materials and documents were quickly disappearing in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Mr. Jampol began collecting artifacts that were discarded and found support to set up a museum in Los Angeles. The Wende Museum collection today includes more than 100,000 items, among them the personal papers of Erich Honecker, the last leader of the German Democratic Republic before its demise in 1989. The conference will mark the opening of the museum’s new site.

The first day of the conference will be hosted by the Wende Museum at its new location in Culver City; the second day of the conference will take place at Doheny Memorial Library, Room 240, USC. More information can be found on the museum's website