'The Stasi and Secret Files'
Fri, October 25, 2013 • 2:45 PM - 4:30 PM • Tom Lea Rooms, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center 3.206
Benjamin Gregg (Government)
Ben Gregg’s student career included a visit to East Germany. He later discovered that the Ministry for State Security had kept a secret file on him. The ‘Stasi’ were among the world’s most effective secret police. Another scholar, the British historian Timothy Garton Ash, wrote after reading his own secret file: “What you find is less malice than human weakness … less deliberate dishonesty than [an] almost infinite capacity for self-deception.” Gregg’s own file reveals as much and more: the aggressively petit bourgeois sense of self-righteousness and a high degree of conformity to established standards of behavior—but also a determination by the people of East Germany to cope as best they could with the problems of everyday life.
After his B.A. from Yale in 1979, Ben Gregg went on to study for a D.Phil. from the Free University of Berlin and a Ph.D. from Princeton. He teaches social and political theory in the UT Department of Government. His books include Thick Moralities, Thin Politics (2003); Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms (2003); and Human Rights as Social Construction (2011). Next year he will publish The Human Rights State.