Images and Languages of Despair and Violence: Representations of Eastern Europe after the Great War
100 years ago, the First World War ended - and its crisis-ridden consequences began. Especially in Eastern Europe, where state borders were radically redrawn and the October Revolution sent shockwaves through other countries, the first post-war years were characterized by widespread destitution, by violence as well as by extensive social and political upheavals. Our project asks about the longer-term consequences of the deep and multiple post-war crises in the historical development of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. At the center of interest are processes of medialization of upheaval and crisis: representations framed and interpreted crises, so were central to their politicization as well as memorialization. In the post-war and inter-war period Eastern Europe became not only an experimental field of new transnational policy interventions, but also new forms of representation of crisis that produced powerful visual languages. The postwar thus became a local, as well as national and transnational media event. International humanitarian photography is a well-known case of media innovation, as well as the use of (moving and non-moving) images in Bolshevik propaganda and the counter-propaganda of their opponents. We ask about the semantics and techniques of these images and languages of crisis. How far were these rooted in previous imperial discursive practices? After all, contemporary representations shaped the controversial memories of the post-war era, and linked past, present and future.
Our project focuses on two periods: the immediate post-war crisis years on the one hand, the time of the global economic crisis on the other. There will be two conferences (one in Regensburg in October 2018) and one in Marburg (in May 2019). The results should be published internationally.