This article provides an analysis of how military history museums in Germany, Britain, Belgium, Poland, and the United States exhibit and contextualize weapon technologies that were developed in the two world wars. The article focuses on technologies (gas warfare, the atomic bomb, tanks, and the V2 long-range rocket) that are directly connected to military success and innovation but also relate to dehumanization and destruction. By employing the analytical concepts of experientiality and of antagonistic, cosmopolitan, and entangled memory, this article demonstrates how museums can create open or closed narratives, steer the visitor toward particular interpretations, enhance or deconstruct the authentic aura of technological artifacts, and stage the symbolic potential of technologies. In addition, it shows how museums can educate visitors and allow them to experience the ambiguities, controversies, and complexities of these technologies.
A Conversation on Adorno, Baudrillard, Braidotti and Marcuse
Siphiwe I. Dube
This article provides an analysis of the way in which contemporary forms of intelligence discourse (Jean Baudrillard), in similar fashion to political art (Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse), function by delimiting critical thought. The intelligence discourse critiqued is extolled through things such as progressive intelligence acquisition (Flynn effect) and the supposed indispensability of Democratic reason (Hélène Landemore), amongst other qualities. In support of its argument, the article focusses specifically on Baudrillard’s analysis of the notion of the intelligence of evil, as well as on the Frankfurt School’s critique of massification. However, the article also notes limitations in these thinkers’ recovery and defence of critical thought in response to the delimitation posed by intelligence and massification, and argues for Rosi Braidotti’s evaluation of thought as nomadic as a necessary corrective.
Following the surge of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder on 25 May 2020, memorials in remembrance of individuals implicated in colonialism or slavery have come under increasing attack. This article discusses and contextualizes challenges in 2020 to the memorialization of Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) and Emily Ruete née Salama bint Said (1844–1924) in Hamburg, where the legacy of the German colonial past is particularly palpable. The article argues that proposed solutions—be it the demolition of the city’s main Bismarck monument, its restoration and the erection of a counter-memorial adjacent to it, or the un-naming of a street named after Ruete—potentially erase the complexities and contradictions of the lives of historical actors, are often informed by a desire to quarantine the past, and, just as often, fail to engage with its continuation in the present.
Dawid Rogacz, Donald Mark C. Ude, and Tshepo Mvulane Moloi
Douglas L. Berger, Indian and Intercultural Philosophy: Personhood, Consciousness and Causality. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2021, 240 pp.
Joseph C. A. Agbakoba, Development and Modernity in Africa: An Intercultural Philosophical Perspective, Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2019, 405 pp.
Adekeye Adebajo (ed.), The Pan-African Pantheon: Prophets, Poets and Philosophers, Auckland Park, South Africa: Jacana Media, 2020. 655 pp.
Thomas Klikauer, Norman Simms, Marcus Colla, Nicolas Wittstock, Matthew Specter, Kate R. Stanton, John Bendix, and Bernd Schaefer
Heinrich Detering, Was heißt hier “wir”? Zur Rhetorik der parlamentarischen Rechten (Dietzingen: Reclam Press, 2019).
Clare Copley, Nazi Buildings: Cold War Traces and Governmentality in Post-Unification Berlin (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).
Tobias Schulze-Cleven and Sidney A. Rothstein, eds., Imbalance: Germany’s Political Economy after the Social Democratic Century (Abingdon: Routledge, 2021).
Benedikt Schoenborn, Reconciliation Road: Willy Brandt, Ostpolitik and the Quest for European Peace (New York: Berghahn Books, 2020).
Tiffany N. Florvil, Mobilizing Black Germany: Afro-German Women and the Making of a Transnational Movement (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2020).
Ingo Cornils, Beyond Tomorrow: German Science Fiction and Utopian Thought in the 20th and 21st Centuries (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2020).
Christian F. Ostermann, Between Containment and Rollback: The United States and the Cold War in Germany (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2021).
Budgets for Women’s Policies in German and Austrian Länder
Ayse Dursun, Sabine Lang, and Birgit Sauer
State budgets reflect political priorities, providing a measure of issue relevance over time and comparatively across states. This article offers the first analysis of Länder budgets for women’s policy agencies (WPA) in Germany and Austria between 1991 and 2018. Comparing Länder WPA budgets provides insights into material allocations to, and the conditionality of, gender politics in Germany’s strongly federalized state and Austria’s weak federation. We find that German Länder budgeted for independent WPA earlier than Austrian Länder. However, with the advent of the 1999 Austrian coalition of Christian Democrats and the right-wing Freedom Party, which aimed to dismantle national-level gender policies, Austrian Länder investment in WPA grew to compensate for diminishing federal funds. The party constellation in power mattered more in Austria, but in both countries the parties in power were more important for WPA financing than the descriptive representation of women in Länder parliaments.
Eingaben and the History of Homosexuality in East Germany
This article centers on four petitions (Eingaben) presented to the East German Central Committee in the 1970s and 1980s by men attracted to other men. The East German legal apparatus required that the state address all petitions. An analysis of these Eingaben written by non-activists demonstrates a growing boldness to use the available legal structures to claim one’s rights. The petitioners used the Eingaben system to assert their legitimacy as GDR citizens, forcing officials to deal with them as any other citizen. This article moreover calls for the still young field of East German homosexual history to more fully incorporate the untold number of Eingaben written by homosexuals in the former GDR. This would help to develop a more comprehensive historical narrative as such documents provide an invaluable and unique window into everyday life under socialism.
In recent years, it has become commonplace to argue that space is an important topic in the humanities and social sciences. But what does space do? Can we speak of space as having agency? Historians’ responses to these questions are strikingly varied. Some propose an almost deterministic role for spatial characteristics, while others deny that space can have any causal function at all. This article seeks to navigate a path between these unsatisfactory extremes. It uses insights from material culture studies and actor-network theory to discuss ways of re-framing agency as an assemblage of human and non-human affects. Agency can thus be defined not in terms of first causes and definitive outcomes, but instead as a coincidence of occurrences. This allows historians to speak of “spatial agency” as the emplacement of affective elements, the gathering of agencies at a particular site and moment.
On Some French Memoirs of the Illyrian Provinces 1809–1813
This article examines how four French memorialists recall and represent the former imperial territories of the Illyrian Provinces (1809–1813) on the eastern Adriatic seaboard. It explores how their memoirs deploy Enlightenment ethnography and Romantic exoticism in distinct ways while problematizing these approaches in light of lived experiences in the region. The article thus sheds light on the evolving character of tropes about the western Balkans in early nineteenth-century France, highlighting the influence the landscapes, cultures, and peoples of the territories had on the French officials posted there, including on their later self-presentation as memorialists.
Places of Progress? Technology Museums, Memory, and Education
Christian Kehrt and Daniel Brandau
“Revolutionary” technologies or large technological systems are often deemed controversial, risky, or ambivalent. Diverging interpretations clash when technological objects, such as rockets, airplanes, or nuclear reactors, are exhibited in museums or at heritage sites, with profound implications for underlying concepts of historical education. This special issue explores the argument that histories of technology have often upheld a traditional view of modern linear progress but became the focus of controversies when the social, political, and cultural conditions of perceiving and remembering these objects changed. At former “places of progress,” visitors and exhibition makers are confronted with the remains of the Industrial Revolution, colonialism, two World Wars, the Cold War, the Age of Coal, the Space Age, the Atomic Age and the Digital Age. Exhibitions and displays have been used to explain, teach, or make sense of the advents, successes, and failures of high-tech projects. Understanding technological artifacts and corresponding sites such as Chernobyl, Peenemünde, and Hiroshima as well as structures such as factories or bunkers as sites of memory (lieux de mémoire, a term coined by Pierre Nora) shifts our attention to processes of remembering modern technologies and the cases in which established narratives of progress have been supported or challenged. Questions about the ethics of technology use often seem to subvert stories of the “heroes of invention,” leaving visitors with the impression of technological ambivalence. Attempts to teach and learn about history and technology via objects and sites have been complicated, politicized, and contested.