Dr. Peter Barker

Dr Peter Barker does not have any family links to the Wends. He read German and Russian at Cambridge University in the 1960s and developed an interest in German-Slav relations. He also specialized in the German Democratic Republic and it is in this context that he came across the Wends/Sorbs. He completed a PhD thesis on GDR cultural policy and the novel, and one of the writers he discussed was Erwin Strittmatter, who, as you may or may not know, had a Sorbian family background in Lower Lusatia. When he started teaching at Reading University, he developed a course on the history of the GDR and included material on the nationalities policy in the GDR. He visited Lusatia in 1987 and invited two Sorbian writers to the United Kingdom, Jurij Koch in 1988 and Kito Lorenc in 1991. When the SED and Stasi archives were opened in the 1990s he found a lot of material on the Sorbs and this lead to the book he published in 2000 on policy towards the Sorbian minority in the GDR and after reunification, Slavs in Germany: The Sorbian Minority and he German State Since 1945. He also attended two intensive courses in Upper Sorbian in the 1990s. He retired 8 years ago but continues to take an interest in Lusatia. He did do a lot of archival research on the churches, Lutheran and Catholic, after 2000 and was intending to write a book. But after he retired full-time in 2004, it was difficult to get funding for research visits and publication costs, although the Sorbian Institute did part-fund some of his visits. As a result, he only published several articles on the churches, which appeared in Lětopis and elsewhere, based on a large amount of material he collected from Church archives in Lusatia.

Dr. Barker has have been translating the abstracts for Lětopis since 2008. He is happy for any material he sends to be put on a blog, but like Gerald Stone he doesn’t really go in for blogging.  He is, however, happy to answer any questions. A bibliography of his publications on the Sorbs is listed below. He is of course familiar with the continuing interest in Wendish matters in Texas, especially since he translated a number of chapters for Trudla Malinkowa’s book on Jan Kilian.

Dislocation and Reorientation in the Sorbian Community (1945-2008) by Peter Barker

This article by Dr. Peter Barker first appeared in: Dislocation and Reorientation. Exile, Division and the End of Communism in German Culture and Politics, ed. Axel Goodbody, Pól Ó Dochartaigh Denis Tate, German Monitor No. 71, Rodopi, Amsterdam/New York, 2009, pp. 179-195. -0- This chapter will highlight three particular points in the post-war social development of …

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Re-writing My Life and Work: Jurij Brězan’s Autobiographical Writings by Peter Barker

This article by Dr. Peter Barker first appeared in Editions Rodopi, German Monitor, no. 75 in 2012. -0- Jurij Brězan was the major Sorbian writer of the 20th Century, who was known above all for his novels, a genre which before 1945 hardly existed in Sorbian literature. Despite his view that his most important task was …

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