The Echoes of the Brother Countries Reader embarks on a rigorous reappraisal of the historical exchanges between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and its so-called Bruderländer (brother countries). Published on the occasion of the eponymous research and exhibition project at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), this reader considers the notion of echoes as a fulcrum to examine the resonant aesthetic, social, and political implications of an era from the perspectives of those who were deeply affected by the GDR’s state and labour policies, yet gravely overlooked in its histories. Scrutinizing mainstreamed discourses about ‘unification’, ‘contract workers’, and ‘East Germany’, the contributions offer a critical assessment of the GDR’s interactions with other socialist countries, as well as the implications for the people who lived in the GDR. Conversations and essays from witnesses, scholars, and artists make a case for a more discerning perspective on the connections of solidarity that linked the GDR to countries such as Angola, Cuba, Ghana, Mozambique, and Vietnam, among others. The GDR is revealed as an interface where ideologies, visions, and illusions converged, through which states and individuals forged connections, however performative, against the backdrop of transformative historical currents. 

The Book Launch introduces the key premises of the Echoes of the Brother Countries Reader and invites contributing authors Kadriye Karcı, Alina Simmelbauer, and Sarnt Utamachote to discuss political exile in the GDR and FRG and image and object-based research with HKW editor Eric Otieno Sumba. 

The book features contributions from Santiago Calderón, Emiliano Chaimite, Laura Coll, Lama El Khatib, Lucia Engombe, Francisca García, Paz Guevara, Kadriye Karcı, Samirah Kenawi, David Lufuankenda, Dejan Marković, Doreen Mende, Luamba Muinga, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Peggy Piesche, Nelly Y. Pinkrah, Rasha Salti, Alina Simmelbauer, Eva Stein, Eric Otieno Sumba, Sarnt Utamachote, Aliza Yanes, and Kais al-Zubaidi.

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