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Communism, Consumerism, and Gender in Early Cold War Film

The Case of Ninotchka and Russkii vopros

Rhiannon Dowling

This article deals with ideologies of domesticity, femininity, and consumerism as they were articulated in two films in the early Cold War. These films, shown in occupied Berlin from the spring of 1948 through the first few months of 1949, were Ernst Lubitsch's Hollywood classic Ninotchka (1939) and the Soviet film Russkiivopros (The Russian Question, 1948). They portrayed competing notions of domestic consumption and the “good life” in the aftermath of the Second World War—issues more commonly understood to have characterized the later, thaw-era, years of the conflict. Though they were shown at a time of heightened political and ideological tensions, neither painted a one-dimensional or demonized portrait of the enemy. Instead, both films employed narratives about the private lives and material desires of women in order to humanize their enemies and yet make a statement about the inhuman nature of the other system.

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Transnational Cultural Propaganda

French Cultural Policies in Britain during the Second World War

Charlotte Faucher

The Second World War challenged the well-established circulation of cultural practices between France and Britain. But it also gave individuals, communities, states, and aspiring governments opportunities to invent new forms of international cultural promotion that straddled the national boundaries that the war had disrupted. Although London became the capital city of the main external Resistance movement Free France, the latter struggled to establish its cultural agenda in Britain, owing, on the one hand, to the British Council’s control over French cultural policies and, on the other hand, to the activities of anti-Gaullist Resistance fighters based in London who ascribed different purposes to French arts. While the British Council and a few French individuals worked towards prolonging French cultural policies that had been in place since the interwar period, Free French promoted rather conservative and traditional images of France so as to reclaim French culture in the name of the Resistance.

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Facing the Future

The Artistic and Diasporic Afterlife of the Iran-Iraq War

Roxanne Varzi

How do the cultural and emotional after-effects of the Iran-Iraq War influence artistic production among Iranian artists living outside of Iran? How do Iranian diaspora self-portraits act as socio-political memoirs? This article addresses these questions by looking at some examples of diaspora artists who through their art somehow remain political 'subjects' of contemporary Iran, even as they grapple with the complexities of 'being away' - if that is ever really possible.

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Jésus Tronch

Within the historical context of the Spanish Civil War, 1936–39, ineffectuality, vacillation and irresolution in social and political commitment came under scrutiny as a kind of ‘Hamletism’. Catalan journalist and writer Paulino Masip (1899–1963) cites Hamlet as a type in his article ‘Carta a un español escéptico’ [‘Letter to a sceptical Spaniard’] in the Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia on 16 September 1937, as does José Bergamín (1895–1983) in his contribution to the 2nd International Congress of Writers in Defence of Culture, published in the monthly review Hora de España in August 1937. A theatre production of Hamlet in Valencia in December 1937 reveals similar conflicts and anxieties. In the novel El diario de Hamlet García [The Diary of Hamlet García], written during his exile in Mexico, Masip criticizes wartime Hamletism and reflects upon the dilemmas the civil war imposed on him, contemporary intellectuals and the civilian population of Madrid.

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‘The Expenditure of a Million of British Sovereigns in this Otherwise Miserable Place’

Frontier Wars, Public Debt and the Cape’s Non-racial Constitution

Jeff Peires

This article seeks to enhance the historiography of the Eastern Cape frontier wars by adding war profiteering to land hunger as a motive for settler militancy. Equally important however was the extent to which the exorbitant military expenditure of the Eighth Frontier War (1850–3) aroused the concern of the British Treasury, and drew their attention to the corrupt practices of Colonial Secretary John Montagu, the de facto head of the Cape government. This was precisely the period during which the Cape franchise was under review at the Colonial office, and the article concludes by showing that imperial intervention in favour of a broader more inclusive franchise was due less to democratic concerns than to its desire to put a brake on the Cape’s burgeoning public debt.

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War Memories and Online Encyclopedias

Framing 30 June 1941 in Wikipedia

Mykola Makhortykh

This article examines how digital media interact with collective memories and teaching practices by exploring a selection of Wikipedia articles that describe the capture of Lviv by the Germans on 30 June 1941. This event constitutes an important episode in the history of Ukraine and a complex case of violence that produced several controversies concerning the national historiographies of the Second World War in the post-Soviet region. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics, this article investigates how the event is represented in different language versions of Wikipedia and assesses what kind of memory is produced by each of them.

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Ethics and Violence

Simone de Beauvoir, Djamila Boupacha, and the Algerian War

Judith Surkis

This article situates Simone de Beauvoir's involvement in the case of Djamila Boupacha, an FLN militant who was tortured by the French Army in 1960, in the context of the repeated revelations of torture in course of the Algerian War. Drawing on Beauvoir's writings on ethics and other contemporary denunciations of torture, the essay illuminates how Beauvoir worked to overcome wide-spread public “indifference.” By focusing public attention on the Army's sexually degrading treatment of Boupacha, Beauvoir figured torture as a source of feminine and feminizing national shame.

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Recapturing the Lost

Digitalized Memories of the Rhodesian Bush War

Ane Marie Ørbø Kirkegaard

Rhodesians occupy a very specific digitalized time-space bubble at the very edges of a margin that researchers think of as “past.” In this study, I trace the memorization of the Rhodesian Bush War on YouTube, of what it was like to fight for a dream and see it crumble in an isolated and highly racialized society. Th rough narrative analysis focusing on identity formation and social networks of relationships, a militaryromantic story of racialized masculine heroism, suffering and sacrifice is pieced together, forming a globally shared Rhodesian space-time bubble of meaningfulness, making it an active part of the present as much as a remnant of the past.

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Maureen Mulligan

This article contrasts two accounts by women written between 1936 and 1939 describing their experiences of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. The aim is to question how far travel writers have a political and ethical relation to the place they visit and to what extent they deal with this in their texts. The global politics of travel writing and the distinction between colonial and cosmopolitan travel writers affect the way a foreign culture is articulated for the home market through discursive and linguistic strategies. The texts are Kate O’Brien’s Farewell Spain (1937) and Gamel Woolsey’s Death’s Other Kingdom: A Spanish Village in 1936 (1939). The conclusions suggest women adopt a range of positions toward the Spanish conflict, depending on their personal commitment and their contact with local people, but their concern to articulate the experience of others in time of crisis has a strong ethical component.

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Kyong-Min Son

This article suggests that a “crisis of democracy” can be understood not simply as a deterioration of specific representative institutions but as a repositioning of democratic politics vis-à-vis other principles of social coordination, most notably the capitalist market, and the attendant decline of democratic subjectivity—people’s attunement to claims appealing to the common good. I trace this process to the post–World War II era. I show that the crisis of democracy was shaped by the substantive imperative of fusing democracy with free-market capitalism. Many postwar democratic theorists believed that the welfare state could manage the tension latent in this fusion. But an analysis of Friedrich Hayek’s theory of neoliberal democracy, which recognizes that tension more acutely, reveals that the incorporation of free-market capitalism creates tendencies that undermine democracy from within.