Sorbian/Wendish Cultural Revival in the Age of Globalization

February 1, 2018, 12-1 pm PST
Lecture at GHI West (201 Moses Hall)
Speaker: Hélène Yèche (University of Poitiers)

In this lecture organized by the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley and co-presented by GHI West, Hélène Yèche will introduce the audience to the case study of the Sorbs, a Slavic minority living in today’s Germany. The Sorbian community of Lusatia recently developed a few important ways of preserving identity and culture in the context of globalization through language revitalization. Sorbian identity challenge is part of a global minority revival trend, which is not only taking place in Europe. The Wends of Texas – the descendants of more than 500 Wendish people who emigrated from Lusatia to Texas in 1854 under the leadership and pastoral care of John Kilian – are also currently struggling to regain knowledge about their Wendish origin and culture. Professor Yèche will investigate the Sorbian/Wendish cultural revival in an age of globalization as a possible context in which the voice of minority culture can be taken seriously. 

Hélène Yèche is a Professor of German Studies at the University of Poitiers. Former student of the École Normale Supérieure (ENS Fontenay-Saint-Cloud, 1988-1992), she earned her PhD in contemporary East German Literature from the Paris IV-Sorbonne University in 1994. Main research areas include GDR culture and literature in the 1980s, as well as German post-wall cultural studies with a strong focus on the Sorbian minority.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and the Slavic Department at UC Berkeley.