Politics of post-war Germany
If you ever have a question regarding German politics and the effects of the reunification of Germany after the destruction of the Berlin Wall, Robert E. Diamond Associate Professor of Government and International Studies Professor Jennifer Yoder is the person to talk to. Yoder specializes in German politics and the reunification of the country, Germany's transition from Communism and regional politics and societies in general throughout Europe.
"At a theoretical level, much of my work considers the relationship between culture and political systems and investigates the role of elites' preferences and perceptions in shaping political institutions and policies," Yoder says. "I explore these questions through comparisons of post-communist transformations and developments at the sub-national level of politics in the case of Germany and, in my more recent work, in four East Central European countries."
Among Yoder's most recent accomplishments is her participation in the Fulbright Commission German Studies program "Germany's Future: New Parties--New Solutions?" The program took place in Berlin, Erfurt Frankfurt/Main, and Wiesbaden, Germany, and coincided with the results of the 2009 European Parliament Elections.
"I met with numerous officials from the various political parties, journalists, pollsters and academics to discuss the changes in the German party system and the increasing influence of small parties, like the Greens, Liberals and Left Party." The information she learned there proved to be extremely valuable and had enough of an effect on Yoder to encourage her to write a paper titled "Unification and the Evolution of the German Political Party System."
Another focal point of Yoder's research for the past decade has been the integration of eastern Germans into the political scene of the newly unified Germany. "I am curious about the relative dearth of easterners in Germany's national political leadership and, in that context, the exceptional rise of easterner Angela Merkel to the chancellorship," Yoder says. Merkel, the current Chancellor of Germany, has held the position since November 2005. She is the first leader of reunited Germany to grow up under communist rule, and has even been named by Forbes magazine for the past four years as the world's most powerful woman.
"I have been invited to work with a group of American scholars [on the] investigation [of] the Merkel chancellorship. With the support of a Colby College Interdisciplinary Studies Division Grant, I traveled to Berlin in late September, coinciding with the German parliamentary election, to conduct further research on this project," Yoder says. "I will give a talk on Merkel on Sunday, November 15 titled, 'Nobody's Mädchen: Angela Merkel's Unusual Path to the Chancellorship and the Consequences for German Politics'."
Yoder has also devoted much of her time to researching the lasting effects of the communist regimes of Germany and Europe. In her book, From East Germans to Germans?: The New Postcommunist Elites, Yoder examines the experience of East Germans as they attempt to reintegrate into the German state.
"My research questions are motivated by my curiosity about how experiences under communist regimes and then the period of tremendous political, economic and social upheaval after 1989 affect political elites' visions for democracy and preferences for distributing state authority."
Yoder, along with several other professors at the College, participated in "Twenty Years After the Berlin Wall: An Interdisciplinary Roundtable," on November 3. Professors discussed the fall of the Berlin Wall and its economic, philosophical, governmental, historical and cultural implications.
A faculty member at the College since 1996, Yoder received her B.A. in political science from the University of Akron in 1988 and her Ph.D. in government and politics from the University of Maryland in 1996.