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Cultural Intellectual History


'Geteilte Welten'. Intellektuelle Begegnungen im späten Kalten Krieg


Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann

Der Intellektuelle ist tot! Ganz in Sinne dieser 1983 von Jean François Lyotard aufgestellten Behauptung befasst sich die jüngere Zeitgeschichte kaum mit Intellektuellen, wenn sie den politischen, sozialen wie weltanschaulichen Umbrüchen der 1970er und 1980er Jahre nachspürt. Dabei verweisen nicht nur die zeitgenössischen Diskussionen um die Rolle und das Schicksal von Intellektuellen in den Medien, dass sie ihre Funktion als Projektionsflächen für gesellschaftliche Selbstverständigungsprozesse keineswegs eingebüßt hatten. Auch als Akteure fanden sich Intellektuelle wiederholt zwischen den Fronten politischer und sozialer Auseinandersetzungen des späten Kalten Krieges wieder – sei dies als ‚Staatsfeinde‘, die sich Hausdurchsuchungen oder Zwangseinweisungen in die Psychiatrie ausgesetzt sahen, oder als Aktivisten, die Politiker berieten, mediale Aufmerksamkeit provozierten oder sozialen Bewegungen ein Gesicht verliehen...[mehr]


Identity, Tradition, Utopia: Conservatism as Political Culture in Russia and Europe, 1800

Dr. Roland Cvetkovski

The research project is situated in the transition phase between pre-modern and modern period and addresses intellectual history in the “deferred end of the 18th century” (Aleksandr I. Kupriianov). It particularly focuses on genesis, formulations and manifestations of conceptions which were usually held being the origin for Russia’s political as well cultural continual ossification in the long 19th century. Most of the bearers of this so-called conservative ideology acted both on behalf of the state and were regarded as those who wanted to re-establish the ancien régime. This is why conservatism in the classical understanding is so closely connected with the tenacity as well as traditionalism of the Russian state. But at the same time all important protagonists promoting this allegedly defensive concept of society firmly stood in European intellectual contexts. Their protagonists regarded this period of upheaval after 1800 an opportunity of a comprehensive societal regeneration and initiated the first political discussion of values in general.

This project is concerned with early conservatism in a broader sense. First it is understood as part of an intellectual strand starting from Russian orthodox enlightenment which includes the world of the provincial elite. On the other hand conservatism is an early expression of a political culture which is embedded in a European as well as cosmopolitan context. Against this backdrop the so-called conservatives actually appear as taking part in the utopian discourse developing early in the 19th century. Although they made use of topoi as family, history, state, and belief as tradition-bound values which could solely consolidate the body politic they in fact were the first to coin them as conflictual terms in an overall debate about political and societal regeneration.

Reflections on Continuity in Polish Intellectual Culture: Transborder Perspective of Post-war Public Discussions (1945 – 1956)

Dissertationsprojekt: Aleksei Lokhmatov

After the Second World War three centres emerged in Europe which claimed to be legitimate representatives of Polish culture and to continue the Polish national tradition: The Polish Republic under Soviet domination, London as the seat of the exiled government, and Paris where many Polish intellectuals gathered soon after the Second World War. The Polish intellectuals were faced with the necessity to reconsider the main points of the discussion on cultural continuity under the new conditions. The Polish philosopher and writer Stanisław Brzozowski had written still in the beginning of the 20th century: “the nation is a kind of continuity of will which sustains, raises and realizes itself”, having mentioned that “cultural continuity is impossible without the assimilation of the former cultural achievements by each new generation.” With the independence, Polish intellectuals plunged into a fierce public debate on cultural and historical identity, deepening and developing the concept of cultural continuity. The Second World War yet again radically changed the European political and intellectual landscape and shaped a completely new situation for rethinking the issues of cultural identity.

I will examine the concepts of cultural and political continuity which were coined by Polish scholars and writers who took part in the public discussions in the three European centres of Polish intellectual and cultural life after World War II. Under the term “continuity”, I understand the concepts which were formulated within these disputes and had to inscribe the post-war realities into the course of the Polish cultural and political tradition. In my research, I will concentrate on the debates in cultural journals which were, in all three centres, an important mediator between scholarly or literary communities and the broader public. In contrast to the existing historiographical tradition, I will be especially interested in the continuation and the development of the interwar debates and will examine these three centres not as separate from each other but in the context of their common intellectual genealogy and cross-border discussions during the early Cold War.