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Re-viewing the Past and Facing the Future

Laurence Grove, Anne Magnussen, and Ann Miller

This edition of European Comic Art begins by adopting a retrospective viewpoint and ends with a look to the future, not entirely rosy but not wholly bleak. Our first article offers a reassessment of the relationship between Hergé's Tintin and conservative Catholic discourses of the 1930s. We then move on to a personal recollection of a landmark moment in the legitimisation of comics in France: the Cerisy conference of 1987. In our third article, two virtuoso comics autobiographers reflect (in an email discussion that took place in 2006, here translated into English for the first time) on the loss of the searching, edgy tonality of early comics life writing in favour of something more crowd-pleasing. Finally, a young Brighton-based comics artist shares her love of the medium and her experience of solidarity among her fellow artists but has a cooler appraisal of the current political scene and the health of the comics culture in the United Kingdom.

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Innocence and the Politics of Memory

Jonathan Bach and Benjamin Nienass

Innocence is central to German memory politics; indeed, one can say that the German memory landscape is saturated with claims of innocence. The Great War is commonly portrayed as a loss of innocence, while the Nazis sought, in their way, to reclaim that innocence by proclaiming Germany as the innocent victim. After World War II, denazification and courts established administrative and legal boundaries within which claims of innocence could be formulated and adjudicated, while the “zero hour” and “economic miracle” established a basis for a different form of reclaiming innocence, one roundly critiqued by Theodor W. Adorno in his essay “What Does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean?” In the 1980s, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's famous pronouncement of the “grace [Gnade] of a late birth” (also translatable as “mercy,” “pardon,” or “blessing”) became the touchstone for a resurgence of war children's (Kriegskinder) memory. In the 1990s, the myth of the Wehrmacht as largely innocent of atrocities was publicly challenged. Today, right-wing critiques that cast Holocaust remembrance as a politics of shame draw upon tropes of innocence, of German air war victims and post-war generations, while right-wing images of migrants are cast in classic forms of threats to the purity of the “national body” (Volkskörper). The quickening pace of contemporary debates over Germany's colonial past pointedly questions the innocence of today's beneficiaries of colonialism, drawing attention to the borders and contours of implication.

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On a 1st Anniversary

Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood, and Frank G. Karioris

Nota bene: This introduction was written near the end of 2020, a year that saw the world struggle with COVID-19. These issues make up the primary body of the below text. Yet, as we moved into the new year, perhaps thankful that 2020 had come to a close, on 6 January, and before the introduction was sent to publication, the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, was laid siege by far right extremists, White supremacists, and supporters seeking to stop the confirmation of the election of Joseph Biden. I [Frank] am reminded of a similar note I wrote in an article for the Sexual Violence Research Initiative's “16 Days of Activism” series in early December: “We write this post amidst political protests that have shaken Kyrgyzstan, with the recent election results being annulled. We send our thoughts for those working to ensure a fair, democratic, and transparent government; and hope for a speedabsy resolution to these issues” (Kim and Karioris 2020). In a similar sense, with the events still etched in our minds and processes just beginning to begin (arrests, an impeachment, etc.) and the inauguration still to come, we include this short note affirming our commitment to democratic principles, challenging violent masculinity, and supporting antiracist activism.

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Muslim Notables, French Colonial Officials, and the Washers of the Dead

Women and Gender Politics in Colonial Algeria

Augustin Jomier


For many decades, scholars of gender and women's history in the Middle East and North Africa have challenged prevailing visions of an unchanged patriarchy, showing how patriarchy was transformed in relation to colonialism, and how some women struggled against it. To the contrary, this article aims to challenge our understanding of women's agency, taking Mzab as a case study. It explores the ways in which women of this Berber speaking region, inhabited by Ibadi Muslims and conquered by the French in 1882, contributed to the colonial reinforcement of male domination. Reading together works of ethnography, colonial administrative files, legal disputes, and Arabic-language newspapers, this article shows that, together with the colonial legal framework, other informal legal discourses and institutions shaped women's condition. Down the road, forms of patriarchy and notions of gender shifted.

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The Neighbourhood as Home Away from Home?

Potentials and Dilemmas of Homemaking in the Public Among the Somali Swedes in Rinkeby, Stockholm

Aurora Massa and Paolo Boccagni

Home, as a special attachment to (and appropriation over) place, can also be cultivated in the public urban space, under certain conditions that we explore through a case study in Rinkeby, Stockholm. This article analyses various forms of homemaking in the public among the Somali-Swedes who live there. It shows how, in the case of vulnerable immigrants, a neighbourhood feels like home insofar as it facilitates a continuity with their past ways of living, sensuous connections with a shared ‘Somaliness’, reproduction of transnational ties, and protection from the sense of being ‘otherised’ that often creeps among them. However, homemaking in the public is ridden with contradictions and dilemmas, including those of self-segregation. The grassroots negotiation of a sense of home along these lines invites a novel approach into the everyday lived experience of diverse neighbourhoods in European majority-minority cities.

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Visual Responses to Audio-Visual Asynchrony in Music Videos

Thorbjörn Swenberg and Simon Carlgren


Audio-visual rhythm can be achieved in a variety of ways, in film as well as in music videos. Here, we have studied human visual responses to video editing with regard to musical beats, in order to better understand the role of visual rhythm in an audio-visual flow. While some suggest that music videos should maintain synchrony in the audio-visual rhythm, and others claim that music videos should be rhythmically loose in their structure, there is a functional aspect of vision and hearing that reacts to the juxtaposition of audio and visual rhythms. We present empirical evidence of cognitive effects, as well as perceptual differences with attentional effects, for viewers watching music videos cut on-beat and off-beat.

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Ontological Opportunism

Reanimating the Inanimate in Physics and Science Communication at CERN

Anne Dippel

Understanding inanimate ‘nature-as-such’ is traditionally considered the object of physics in Europe. The discipline acts as exemplary discursive practice of scientific knowledge production. However, as my ethnographic investigation of doing and communicating high energy physics demonstrates, animist conceptions seep into the ontological understanding of physics’ ‘objects’, resonating with contemporary concepts of new materialism, new animism and feminist science and technology studies, signifying an atmospheric shift in the understanding of ‘nature’. Drawing on my fieldwork at CERN, I argue that scientists take an opportunist stance to animate concepts of ‘nature’, depending on whom they’re talking to. I am showing how the inanimate in physics is reanimated especially in scientific outreach activities and how the universalist scientific cosmology overlaps with indigenous cosmologies, as for example the Lakota ones.

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Florian Helfer


This article examines the evolution of textbook representations of colonialism in two North Rhine-Westphalian textbook series for the Sekundarstufe II since 1989. On the one hand, the article shows that the developing post-colonial discourse in the German public debate had a particularly strong impact on schoolbooks in the mid-2000s. Textbooks reacted quickly to changes in the public debate and have increasingly attempted to deconstruct colonial narratives. However, implicit mental conceptions of African “backwardness” continue to exert some influence even on today's textbook generation. On the other hand, the article identifies the distortions that appear when colonialism as a global phenomenon is discussed within a curricular framework that focuses on national and European history. Because of the close curricular link between High Imperialism and World War I, textbooks strongly focus on the global rivalry of the European powers, whereas other aspects of colonialism come up short.

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“The Rain It Takes to Learn the Limits of the Self”

Wetness, Masculinity, and Neoliberal Erotics in Andrew McMillan's Playtime

Nicholas Hauck


Andrew McMillan's poetics dissects the physical minutiae of love and desire, enacting ex post facto a sexual and sexualized innocent pleasure. The scenes play out places such as classrooms, trains, locker-rooms, phone booths, and attic bedrooms, and often reference liquids. Tears, sweat, rain, rivers, blood, and sperm are associated with loss and mourning, a wet erotic (childhood) innocence remembered from a dry(er) perspective of experience and awareness of masculinity. In a post-Thatcher neoliberal framework, McMillan explores scenes of masculinity. Playtime is divided into two parts; if these two parts can be provisionally labeled “before” and “after”—a facile distinction between innocence and experience—McMillan's style and form break down this narrative and open up to fluidity, questioning the possibilities of pleasure (in)formed by neoliberal ideals.

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Refugees and Fish Fingers

How Visegrad Policymakers Used Emancipatory Narratives to Establish a ‘Right to Reject’

Lucia Najslova

Emancipatory narratives and acts often emerge in struggle against injustice and marginalisation. This article shows the ease with which they can be employed to justify the denial of rights. The space-time is ‘post-socialist’ Eastern Europe, more specifically, the Visegrad platform set up in the 1990s to facilitate entry of three such states into the European Union (EU). The ethnography begins in 2015, when Arab and/or Muslim refugees appeared in Europe in what most EU politicians deemed as unsettling numbers. I read moments from conversations with policymakers and activists, as well as archive material, through lenses of solidarity and sovereignty. This approach allows us to see that delegitimisation of others’ rights can well be a product of relational insecurity, in this case, frustration in the Visegrad’s ‘policy world’ with the region’s recent Westernisation.