(Residential Fellow, 2020-21)
‘Real Existing’ Utopia: Creating a Technological Culture in the German Democratic Republic, 1949-1989
Mario Bianchini is a PhD candidate in the History and Sociology of Science and Technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a visiting fellow at the Leibnitz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam. His dissertation “‘Real Existing’ Utopia: Creating a Technological Culture in the German Democratic Republic, 1949-1989” examines how East Germany sought to design a culture that would ideally simultaneously develop technical skills across the population, and inspire a collective drive to invent a communist utopia under state direction. The dissertation project focuses on three case studies of toys, education, and sport as primary cultural nodes where the state sought to introduce technological-utopian ideas to the East German population. Through these three nodes, he traces how the state tried to carefully balance the paradoxical claim that East Germany was simultaneously an already existing utopia and yet needed its citizens to help build a utopia in the future.
Mario has received two Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst grants and a Fulbright research grant for his work on East Germany. His work has appeared in German Studies Review, Technology’s Stories, and in the Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung.