“Kept Things”: Heterotopic Provocations in the Museal Representation of East German Everyday Life

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Anne Winkler


Heterotopia, East Germany, Everyday Life, Postsocialism, Museums, Michel Foucault, Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR, DOK, Material Culture, History, Representation


This article undertakes a reciprocally informed analysis of Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia and the temporary exhibition Aufgehobene Dinge: Ein Frauenleben in Ost-Berlin (Kept Things: A Woman’s Life in East Berlin), on display in Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany, from March 28, 2010, until May 5, 2011. The exhibition emerges as site and practice that questions fundamentally how other contemporary museums represent East German everyday life. At the same time, Kept Things renders visible the mechanisms by which museums construct knowledge. The foundation for this article consists in an interrogation of the concept of heterotopia that emphasizes its methodological possibilities and capacity to reveal knowledge. The application of dimensions of heterotopia explicates how spatial, temporal, and political contexts shape the exhibition’s meaning while simultaneously gesturing towards the possibility of more nuanced representations of the East German past than circulate currently. In English, extended summary in Russian.

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