Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Christian Werkmeister

PhD student

funded by the German National Scholarship Foundation

Mail christian.werkmeister(at)geschichte.uni-halle(dot)de

Christian Werkmeister is currently working on his PhD on Soviet youth culture at the Department of Eastern European History at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. He holds a scholarship from the German Academic Foundation (DFG).
He studied Eastern European history, law and political science at Friedrich Schiller University from 2004 to 2011.

Research Project 

Nonconformist forms of rock music had no place in the cultural plan for ‘developed Socialism’. Punk and hard rock openly challenged common political practice, everyday conservatism, and the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. Music served as a vent for dissent and discontent. It also pointed to cracks in the Soviet Union’s ethnic and cultural consensus and highlighted generational divisions in an increasingly fragmented society.
This project seeks to illustrate tendencies and interdependencies in the rock music scene and youth culture in the USSR. In describing developments within the Soviet Union, it takes account of the influence of other socialist republics as well as Western developments and previous and current scholarly debates. It compares the experiences of the musicians, fans and managers who were responsible for the flourishing underground culture in late socialism with those of officially sanctioned bands, locating the former in the context of ideological requirements. The activities of such underground actors represented a level of private, individual independence, which was hitherto unknown.
In order to better contextualise the phenomenon of deviant youths, the project reflects on scholarly debates on counterculture versus subculture, “Eigensinn” versus resistance, and the question of the dissidents´ role in spurring on political change in the Soviet Union. Particular attention is paid to the negative influence of a constructed positive normalcy on state expectations of adolescents, which often contrasted sharply with their actual behaviour in the USSR.
The PhD project seeks to examine the role of rock music in the transformation of Soviet society beyond the turmoil of structural changes and to show the extent to which the rock music scene was a cornerstone in the individual development of young rock enthusiasts and their peers.

Main areas of research

  • Soviet History, especially the history of youth culture and deviance
  • History of psychiatry
  • Genocide studies

„Between Conformity and Liberty - Soviet Cultural Politics and Unofficial Rock Culture“, in: Florence Tamagne (Hrsg.): Titel N.N., im Erscheinen.

"Wahnsinn mit System. Psychiatrische Anstalten in der späten UdSSR", in: Osteuropa 11-12/2014, 133–152.

(with Martin Müller-Butz): “Die Geschichte des GULag im RuNet: Möglichkeiten und Grenzen virtueller Erinnerungskulturen”, in: Jörg Ganzenmüller/Raphael Utz (ed.): Sowjetische Verbrechen Und Russische Erinnerung: Orte Akteure Deutungen, München 2014, 217-244.

Johannes Lepsius und die Verbrechen an den Armeniern. Die Vorgeschichte der UN-Genozidkonvention”, in: Sybille Steinbacher (ed.): Holocaust und Völkermorde. Die Reichweite des Vergleichs [Fritz Bauer Institut: Jahrbuch 2012 zur Geschichte und Wirkung des Holocaust], 83 –104.

Rezension zu Armin T. Wegner: Die Austreibung des armenischen Volkes in die Wüste. Ein Lichtbildvortrag, hrsg. v. Andreas Meier. Göttingen 2011, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 07. Mai 2013.