Ivor Bolton

The implementation of German heritage policy and the representation of the German Democratic Republic through memorials and museums

Supervisor: Dr Jonathan Grix and Dr Sara Jones

The purpose of the research is to provide new data, analysis and discussion on the use of the history of the GDR in formulating and implementing heritage policy, and to examine the effect of this on how the GDR is remembered through memorials and museums. In addressing these issues, the work investigates how the politics of remembrance relates the GDR past to unified Germany.  A framework of political network theory supports the research. Using memorial and museum-based comparative contexts the research investigates how the memory of the GDR past is used to shape political decision-making, and how political decision-making shapes how the GDR is remembered. A further concern of the study is to look at how the memorialization of the GDR is influencing the development of German 'inner unity'.

The key themes of the research are: Policy into practice - reconstructing the past; Managing the representation of the GDR - bringing the past into the present; Representation and Diversification - How diverse intent, purpose and motivation on the part of heritage policy-makers and implementers produce representations of the GDR. In conclusion the research considers how diverse outcomes and implications in the representation of the GDR can indicate ways forward for remembering the GDR past and its long-term memorialisation.


After following a successful career in teaching, I completed an MA in International Studies in preparation for a PhD research degree in the Institute for German Studies at UoB. Returning to a long-term interest in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) for the theme and setting of his work, I am researching how the socialist state is represented in museums and places of memorialisation. My personal interests include a range of theoretical and practical issues relating to the representation of continuity, change, and transition and transformation in social order.


  • MA International Studies (Distinction), York St. John University
  • BEd.(Hons), Cert Ed.(Distinction), University of Leeds

Research interests

  • The GDR and post-unification Germany
  • Social order and social control
  • Continuity and change
  • Representation
  • Political and cultural memory  

Teaching responsibilities

I have no current teaching commitments in UoB, but have involvement from my teaching work with Initial Teacher Training (University of Wolverhampton; Birmingham City University) and with the OFSTED assessment process.

I have been a Coordinator of the UoB Graduate Centre for Europe and Editor of the UoB 'Journal for Europe'. I am currently joint Convenor of the German Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) of the Political Studies Association.

Professional memberships

  • International Association for the Study of German Politics (IASGP)
  • The Political Studies Association (PSA)
  • The German Studies Association (GSA)
  • The Royal Historical Association (RHA)
  • University Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES)

Conference papers

Bolton, I.M. (2013) Eisenhüttenstadt - The memorialisation of the DDR by the Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR, Association for German Studies Conference (May 2013, University of Cardiff)

Bolton, I.M. (2014) The relationship between the culture of the GDR and its representation in memory, University of Birmingham, GDR Today Conference (January 2014, Birmingham UK)

Bolton, I.M. (2014) Heritage policy and the German nation, Council for European Studies Conference (March 2014, Washington DC)

Bolton, I.M. (2014) Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremes, Aston Remembers - 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall Conference (May 2014, University of Aston, Birmingham)

Bolton, I.M. (2015) German heritage policy and the remembrance of the German Democratic Republic, DAAD Summer School (July 2015, University of Oxford)

Bolton, I.M. (2016) German Heritage Policy and the ‘Good Life’, Political Studies Association Conference, German Politics Specialist Group (March 2016, University of Brighton)

Bolton, I.M. (2016) The Construction and Reconstruction of the GDR Past  in the Implementation of German Heritage Policy. University of Heidelberg Heritage Studies Conference (October 2016).


International Association for the Study of German Politics (IASGP) book reviews:

Novy, L. Britain and Germany Imagining the Future of Europe: National Identity, Mass Media and the Public Sphere. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2013. In German Politics, Vol. 23, Number 3, September 2013, Routledge

Grieder, Peter, The German Democratic Republic. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2012. In German Politics, Vol. 24 July 2015, Routledge

Business History Journal book review:

Berghoff, H. and Balbiier, U.A. The East German Economy, 1945 – 2010: falling behind or catching up? German Hist. Institute, Washington DC, and Cambridge University Press, 2013. In Business History,  Vol.57 Numbers 3-4, June 2015, Routledge