Astrid M. Eckert

Associate Professor

Department of History

Office: Bowden 217

Phone: (404) 727-1096

Email: aeckert@emory.edu

Biography

Astrid M. Eckert, Associate Professor (M.A., University of Michigan; M.A. Free University Berlin; Ph.D., Free University Berlin).

I am a historian of modern Germany and modern Europe. Whereas my teaching covers the time period from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, my research and publication activities center on the era after 1945. My research interests have increasingly turned towards environmental history, a field I intend to engage for future work.

My first book, Struggle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2012, Pb. 2014) is a political history of cultural diplomacy and addresses the history of German records and archives confiscated in the wake of the Second World War, and in particular the tangled negotiations concerning their return to (West) German custody. The book was awarded the 2013 Waldo Gifford Leland Award of the Society of American Archivists. You can listen to a podcast about this book here.

My new book West Germany and the Iron Curtain. Economy, Culture & Environment in the Borderlands (Oxford UP, October 2019) analyzes the consequences of the volatile inter-German border for West Germany. The 1,393-kilometer-long border between the two German states was part of the Iron Curtain that divided postwar Europe into West and East. The book takes a fresh look at the history of the “old” Federal Republic and the German reunification process from the spatial perspective of the West German borderlands that emerged along this Cold War demarcation line. This area became known as the “zonal borderlands” (Zonenrandgebiete) and constituted almost twenty percent of the state’s territory. The book contends that these borderlands formed the most sensitive geographical space in West Germany. In the borderlands, state authorities had to address the practical consequences of partition in order to firmly integrate these liminal regions into the state territory. These consequences affected the local economies and infrastructure, manifested themselves as ideological competition in the realm of culture as long as the border was still permeable, and became tangible in environmental relations. In fact, three chapters engage environmental themes, such as transboundary pollution, border-induced landscape change, and a planned nuclear industrial site at Gorleben that was meant to bring jobs to the borderlands. Together, these chapters constitute the first environmental history of the Iron Curtain. The book makes major contributions to the fields of postwar German history, border and borderland studies, environmental history, and tourism studies. You can read an interview in German about the book here and listen to a podcast interview here

West Germany and the Iron Curtain was honored with the

  • 2020 DAAD/GSA Book Prize for the Best Book in History or Social Sciences
  • 2020 Smith Award by the European History Section of the Southern Historical Association for the best book published in European history by a faculty member of a Southern College or University. 
  • 2019 Hans Rosenberg Book Prize, awarded by the Central European History Society of the AHA to the best book in the field published by a North American resident in 2019.

My Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • MA, Free University of Berlin
  • MA, University of Michigan
  • PhD, Free University of Berlin

Interests

  • Modern German history
  • Modern European history
  • Environmental History
  • Borderlands 

Current Graduate Students

I welcome honors student projects on any aspect of twentieth-century Central European and German history. If you are considering applying for graduate work at Emory, I recommend that you get in touch well before the application deadline. Establishing contact early allows us to explore the fit of our mutual academic interests and gives me the opportunity to pass along information about our graduate program and graduate training more generally. 

Recently-Appointed Doctoral Graduates

  • Julia López Fuentes (Savannah Country Day School)
  • Sean A. Wempe (California State University - Bakersfield)
  • Stefanie M. Woodard (Kennesaw State University)

Recent Publications by Doctoral Graduates

  • Sean A. Wempe, Revenants of the German Empire: Colonial Germans, Imperialism, and the League of Nations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Adam T. Rosenbaum, Bavarian Tourism and the Modern World, 1800-1950. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Chad R. Fulwider, German Propaganda and U.S. Neutrality in World War I. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2016.