Research Area 4

Cultural and Intellectual Perspectives and Identifications

Jürgen Heyde, Yvonne Kleinmann and Stefan Troebst

As we consider the processes of globalisation in and for Eastern Europe by not new, the LSC research approaches reach back into the first era of globalisation around 1900 and to the emergence of Eastern Europe on the political map after World War I. The Research area shifts the focus onto important, but as yet little researched questions by conceiving historical actors in Eastern Europe as active global players instead of just imagining the region as a mostly passive object of global developments. On this background the end of state-socialism emerges as another phase of globalisation. After 1989/91 Eastern European societies have been exposed to enormous cultural and intellectual challenges facing simultaneous processes of change such as de-colonisation, nation building and globalisation (Offe 1991).

Cultures and identifications have been affected by the (re)discovery of (imagined) cultural heritage and global influences. This nexus is addressed by acknowledging both the regional dimension of cultural and intellectual life as well as its global dimension.

Exploring the cultural and intellectual manifestations of globalisation in and for the region, Eastern Europe will be conceptualised »on a global scale«. On the one hand the network will analyse the global impact of Eastern European experts and developments, on the other hand it will try to make sense of perceptions and appropriations of global cultural and intellectual trends. Aspects of globalisation will be connected to processes of identity building and social identifications. Based on this approach, the research area aims at overcoming perspectives on Eastern Europe that reproduce exceptionalism from within and »orientalisation« from outside.

»Building history and identities« (Arnold Bartetzky):
The project delves into architecture and urban development in times of transformation: during the interwar period, after 1945 and in the post-socialist era. How did international communication work under various political regimes? How did architectural and urban landscapes change? How were/are implementations and symbols of globalisation and most often, Western culture, perceived and discussed? To which extent discourses on reconstructing and destroying historical buildings were embedded into discourses of identifications, e.g. which impact did architecture and urban development have on identity building?

Identifications and identity building: Globalization and cultural »selfness« (Wolfgang Höpken):
How has globalisation changed people’s everyday life in the course of post-socialist transformation? Which cultural influences have been perceived as culturally enriching, which as threatening? What effects does globalisation have on the cultural self-perception of majorities and minorities, privileged and marginalised? How does »global modernity« affect the local, the regional, and the national cultural identifications? Which old and new concepts of »selfness« are opposed to globalisation, and how are they perceived?

The first Jewish museums in East-Central Europe (Dorothea Warneck):
The first Jewish Museums in Eastern Europe, opened around 1900, have to be seen as part of a European phenomenon of a new form of Jewish self-representation and understanding of Jewish history and historiography. In which way did the actors in the museums reflect on other exhibition projects in Eastern Western Europe, and where they embedded in formal and informal museum-networks? How did these early exhibitions on Jewish history and culture influence the first Jewish museums in Palestine and America since the 1930th?

Cultural Icons – »the East« and »the Global« (Christine Gölz):
The study, rooted in the field of intellectual culture, focuses on cultural icons – defined as local, regional or national images – in comparative perspective. How did these icons shape official and counter-official identity building processes from the early 20th century up to contemporary global pop-culture? By which means did they contribute to the construction of »the global«, but also of »the local«, »the regional« and »the national«? How have cultural icons changed over time, and how do changes reflect ongoing processes of identity building? Is there a way to conceptualise the relationships between »Eastern« and »global« icons?

Culture and environment: Rural societies (Dietlind Hüchtker):
Why do the cultural icons »agrarian« and »rural« (still) matter in Eastern Europe? What has been associated with »rural societies« during the 20th century, and what were/are their cultural and political meanings? To which extent this perception was transformed or continued under the impact of globalisation? How do identity discourses affect the perception of rural societies across the region? How can we conceptualise inside- and outside perceptions?

The transformation of music cultures in Eastern Europe (Stefan Keym):
Which impact can be attributed to the caesura of 1989/1991 concerning music cultures in Eastern Europe? How do processes of globalisation influence the region’s music cultures and musicians? What effects do identity-building processes on the sub-national level have on music cultures across the region? How did the »indigenous turn« affect music? What stylistic elements have been imported, which ones have been exported? How do music cultures create cultures and counter-cultures, identities and counter-identities?

Transitional Justice in Poland in global perspective – a diachronic comparison (Paulina Gulińska-Jurgiel):
The project analyses transitional justice in Poland concerning crimes under National Socialism as well as under Communist Rule. It delves into continuities and changes, looks at long-term trends in establishing juridical concepts, and analyses the role of law, understood as a norm and as a political instrument. The focus is on the argumentative and practical involvement of Polish activists as well as institutions in coming to terms with the dictatorial pasts. Their activities are interpreted as a form to legitimize the own political system and as a contribution to the global discussion of transitional justice.

Post-socialist moral economy. The case of Hungary (Chris Hann):
How can we conceptualise the interdependency between contemporary political economies and the historical dimension of the countries’ moral economy, shaped by both the post-imperial and post-socialist pasts? How do pasts and present interact in today’s Hungary? How can we rationalise the current government under Viktor Orbán regarding historical moral economy and contemporary political economy?