Commemoratrive Culture and Mental Maps

Group leaders: Professor Martin Aust, Professor Volker Depkat

This study group encompasses projects based in the humanities but also those from political science and visual studies. Topics range from the political engagement and horizons of exiled women in the early years of West Germany, images of the USA and Russia in the Weimar Republic, Czechoslovakia and its successor states, the culture of remembrance around the Second World War and the Yugoslav wars, a biographical study of Isaak Nachmann Steinberg, through to the institution of the president in the Russian Federation and soviet cartoons. Our meetings have so far been an opportunity for the discussion of texts relating to fundamental conceptional questions relevant to the groups’ projects. Remembrance in regional, national and transnational contexts, the current and developing status of biographical research, imagology and visual culture have all formed the basis of our discussions. Common to all these is the cultural production of meaning and orientation.

The discussion surrounding biographical research is only at first glance at odds with the representations of collective culture dealt with in other topics. Biographical research is increasingly bound up with the analysis of collective phenomena and can be examined as a society’s mechanism of self-realisation.

The study group will continue to serve as a forum for methodological and conceptional reflection and discussion. Our next topic is film analysis. Increasingly, the doctoral projects in the form of workshop reports and discussions of chapters will take centre stage. Linking theoretical discussion to the projects of the group members proved a fruitful way of working in our first meeting of 2014 when we discussed the doctoral project about images of Russia and America in the Weimar Republic, Czechoslovakia and its successor states.