European Cold War Cultures? Societies, Media and Cold War Experiences in East and West (1947-1990)

European Cold War Cultures? Societies, Media and Cold War Experiences in East and West (1947-1990)

Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung
Vom - Bis
26.04.2007 - 28.04.2007
Marcus M. Payk

Call for papers: Conference/edited volume project

European Cold War Cultures? Societies, Media and Cold War Experiences in East and West (1947-1990)

The Cold War was not only about the imperial ambitions of the super powers, their military strategies and antagonistic ideologies. It was also about their conflicting world views and their correlates in the daily life of the societies involved. This is evident from the central role of the mass media in the political strategies of the Cold War adversaries, particularly in regard to propaganda. But the media played a much larger role, East and west, in the Cold War era. In the USA scholars and the public use the term "Cold War Culture" in a much broader sense to describe a wider field of social practices and symbolic representations as they relate to Cold War politics. "Cold War culture" encompasses both high and popular culture as they shape, and are shaped by, international relations, domestic politics regarding gender and race relations, generational conflicts and finally also the realm of arts and cultural production.

Such an approach broadens views of the Cold War by drawing attention to the cultural and anthropological dimensions of the conflict; and to the transnational dynamics and transfers beneath the level of diplomatic relations and military confrontation. However it remains an open question whether – or to what extent – the Cold War Culture model is applicable to European societies in the East and West.

Although every European country had to adapt to the constraints imposed by the Cold War, their respective developments were also marked by specific conditions absent in the United States as the western hegemonic power. Continental societies had to overcome the material and personal losses of the war to a much greater extent. Transitions from dictatorship to democracy or from Nazi occupation to a recovered independence provided a broad range of particular framings for Cold War politics. As one of the by-products of World War II, some of the leading West European countries also had to face protracted processes of decolonization.

In view of the diversity of conditions under which the Cold War was experienced and reflected in different European nation-states, the following questions become critical:

- Is it possible to speak of specific "European Cold War Cultures"?
- How do they differ from the seemingly coherent American ‘model’ of "Cold War Culture"?
- How were East European societies marked by the direct or indirect presence of the ‘enemy's culture (and vice versa)?
- In which ways does the experience of the Cold War influence political cultures of European countries until today?

In order to enhance the international debate and provide deeper understanding of the history and the legacy of the Cold War in Europe, East and West, the project group "Mass Media in the Cold War" at the Center for Contemporary History Research Potsdam (ZZF) is planning to edit a volume of essays, based on recent and innovative research.

We encourage submissions from a variety of disciplines, with a special interest in work of an interdisciplinary nature. Possible paper topics include the following:

- Media, art and culture: The impact of the Cold War on consumer culture, public spaces, life styles, media (radio, TV etc.), fine arts, music, sports, pop culture, gender policy and collective identities of race, class and gender;
- Protagonists, mentalities, politics: (Self-)images of those responsible for political, administrative and military decisions; interpretations of the competition of political systems as a warlike conflict; institutions and protagonists of high culture and social elites; international cultural relations and diplomacy; strategies of subversion;
- Discourses and counter discourses: Pro-Western/pro-Eastern discourses on the Cold War and their counter-discourses in different national contexts (e.g., Communism in Italy and France; National Neutralism in West Germany; "1968"; decolonization, terrorism), Third Way concepts;
- Historicization of the Cold War: Memory and approaches to the system conflict from a political-historical perspective before and after 1989/91; physical remains left behind by the Cold War (architecture, military equipment etc.); "Cold War Triumphalism"; conflicting and converging narratives of the Cold War in different national contexts.

Essays should preferably embrace a transnational perspective. Planning for ca. 30 essays we expect each of them not to exceed 60,000 characters or 9,000 words and be written in English.

Preperatory Conference: In preparation of the collected volume a conference will be organized in Potsdam from April 26 to 28, 2007 in order to present and discuss the contributions on the basis of pre-circulated research papers. The ZZF will cover travel and accommodation costs of all invited participants.

Anyone interested in contributing to this project is encouraged to submit proposals in form of a 2-page abstract including a short c. v. before July 1, 2006, to the following address:

"European Cold War Culture" <>

The ZZF Project Group "Mass Media in the Cold War"

Thomas Lindenberger
Marcus Payk
Bernd Stöver
Annette Vowinckel



The ZZF Project Group "Mass Media in the Cold War"

Thomas Lindenberger
Marcus Payk
Bernd Stöver
Annette Vowinckel

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