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This paper analyses the German-German dialogue in science after the reunification in 1990. The analyses are based on video recordings of the first joint conference of East- and West-
German researchers of plant breeding that took place in Bernburg in spring 1991. Special emphasis is placed on questions of identity and social positioning: 1. How did East- and West-German scientists discuss the reunification? 2. To what extend did old and new German citizens use different strategies for communicative interaction in their conference presentations? Three opening addresses, three conference presentations and the closing speeches were examined using conversation analysis. The results show that all speakers touched upon the topic of reunification. The asymmetric starting position of East- and West-German plant breeders became clear in examples of juridical, institutional, communicative and methodological reorganisation in the field of plant breeding in the new states of Germany. Furthermore, the speakers’ communicative strategies differed depending on their origin. Despite a clear asymmetry in the German-German scientific dialogue, mutual efforts for understanding were observed. East-German scientists were emotional in their explanations, assertions and appeals; those from the old states praised the achievements of their Eastern colleagues, and made attempts to try and build up community spirit. The
results also show that the value of research depends, for example, on the time and place where it was conducted, and its originality, on ideational (politically predefined settings) and financial opportunities of scientific communities. In the context of the analysed conference presentations, such transepistemic framing becomes clear, for example, in reporting on classic plant breeding in East Germany and plant breeding based on gene technology in West Germany. The analysis is embedded in the social context of 1991 with its implications for East- and West-German scientists and provides an outlook on the developments after 1991.