This essay reconstructs the history of a coral-reef diorama, the outcome of a German Democratic Republic expedition to Cuba, that was displayed in East Berlin’s Natural History Museum in 1967 on the occasion of the GDR’s twenty-fifth anniversary. The paper investigates how the practice of socialist internationalism influenced the diorama’s coming into being, arguing that while official diplomatic relations between Cuba and the GDR were a prerequisite for the expedition, nongovernmental contacts were central to both the initiation and execution of the project. It also demonstrates how the diorama’s display was informed more by national and institutional concerns than by the rhetoric and policies of internationalism.
Cuban Corals in East Berlin’s Natural History Museum, 1967–74: A History of Nondiplomacy
Manuela Bauche is a historian and postdoctoral researcher at Berlin’s Natural History Museum. Her research interests lie in the global history of life sciences and scientific expeditions in the twentieth century.
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Manuela Bauche; Cuban Corals in East Berlin’s Natural History Museum, 1967–74: A History of Nondiplomacy. Representations 1 February 2018; 141 (1): 3–19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2018.141.1.3
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