Essay Contest . WORLD WAR II MEMORY, RITUALS AND MYTHS: CRITICAL THINKING EXPERIENCE [russian version here] [deutsche Version hier]
The Centre for Independent Social Research Berlin (CISR - Berlin, cisr-berlin.org), in the year of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, invites participants to an experience of critical reflection: World War II Memories, Rituals and Myths
. Although three generations have since passed, heated debates about the causes and significance of war events and the status of memory sites continue. Discord over heroes or the number of victims continues. Politicians, public figures, and historians of various countries accuse each other of "distorting the historical truth", and adopt memorial laws designed to protect "history from falsification".
The aim of the project is to join critical work of participants from Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany, seeking to clarify the nature of mutual recriminations and find a constructive way out of existing contradictions. The first stage of the project will take the form of an essay contest.
We invite citizens or residents of Germany, Russia, Belarus and Poland, under 30 years of age, to take part in the contest, encouraging students of social sciences and humanities faculties (sociology, anthropology, history, journalism, etc.) in the last years of the bachelor's degree, in master's or postgraduate studies. Writers, bloggers, artists and documentary filmmakers are also invited.
To take part in the essay contest, it is necessary to fill out the form (see below) and send an essay in German or English/Russian/Polish languages (text/video, from 1000 to 2000 words or 5-7 minutes of video) by the deadline of September 20, 2020
Please note that the "essay" can be both text and video (in a documentary short film format, etc.).
Working languages of the project are Russian or English.
The contest winners, selected for their essays, will participate in a two-week study-tour in Russia (St. Petersburg, Rzhev, Katyn and Smolensk), Belarus (Minsk and Brest), Poland (Warsaw and Gdansk), and Germany (Berlin and Dresden). Visits of sites of memory, museums and memorials, discussions with researchers and activists, independent and group work with other participants will be organized. The study trip is planned for mid and second half of November 2020. Depending on the circumstances (due to the Covid-19 pandemic), this date may be postponed.
The final stage of the Project is a conference in Berlin, to which we will invite the authors of the four best essays, and where the award ceremony will take place. The conference was planned for the second half of November, but, as with the trip, the question of dates is still open.
All costs related to the study trip and the conference will be covered by the organizers.
In your essay you may refer to the discussion of one of the issues/themes below or propose your own. The choice of the country(ies) to discuss in your essay is also flexible, but please note that the focus of the project is on the experience of Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany. Options for essay topics:
- World War II: "history" and "memory" as objects of state policy and personal/collective experience (mutual silences, contradictions, ways of coexistence, etc.)
- The role of war memory for domestic and foreign policy in Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany
- Memorial Laws: Pro et contra
- When World War II started and ended: disputes over periodization
- War Stories in the media: experience of critical reading
- World War II in school and school textbooks (history, literature, civic education)
- Individual memory and participation in public rituals of war commemoration: what does school teach or not teach; military parades, "immortal regiment", etc.?
- Local traditions of war memory (days of liberation of cities and regions; local victims and heroes, local sites of memory)
-Literary images: war, its participants, heroes and victims in prose and poetry
- Images of war events, victims and heroes in cinema, theatre and painting (experience of critical view)
- Modern art projects as a way of working with the experience of WWII
- "Victims" and/or "heroes", "liberators" and/or "occupants", "collaborators" and/or "regime fighters"? National experiences of Holocaust reflection
- How to make routine of war "visible": ways of visualization and narrativization
- Working with "historical documents": how historians, documentary filmmakers, etc. recognize and deal with evidence from the past.
The project is funded by the German Foreign Office.
For all questions, please contact email@example.com