Jane Freeland

Dec 20, 2022

Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence Activism in Divided Berlin, 1968-2002

Oxford University Press 2022

In Feminist Transformations and Domestic Violence Activism in Divided Berlin, 1968-2002 (Oxford University Press, 2022), Jane Freeland traces the development of the shelter movement in East and West Germany. In the 1970s, feminist activists exposed the harmful gender norms and lack of legal protections that left women vulnerable to abuse in the home. Their efforts led to the founding of the first women’s shelter in West Berlin in 1976 and a broadly successful campaign that changed legal and social attitudes toward domestic abuse. Situating domestic violence activism within a broader history of feminism in post-war Germany, the book traces the evolution of this movement both across political division and reunification and from grassroots campaign to established, professionalized social service. It links histories of feminism in East and West Germany and challenges historiographies of reunification that focus on feminist failures. Feminist Transformations reflects on the tensions between the activists who founded the shelter movement and the media and bureaucratic institutions that helped build popular and political support, with important consequences for the trajectory of German feminism up to today.

Rebecca Turkington is a PhD Candidate in History at Cambridge University studying transnational women’s networks.

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