From imagining insurgent violence in Syria to critical or painful reflections on the mobilisation of the Bundeswehr abroad, constructions of violence committed outside the country’s borders hold a particular significance in contemporary Germany. Enquiry into that significance matters because we live in a world in which ideas, discourses and images of violence proliferate and circulate transnationally in unprecedented ways. However, because of Germany’s particular history of violence and war in the twentieth century, imagining, representing and perpetrating violence since 1945 in German culture has been especially fraught. The German case therefore demands particular and distinctive attention.
To that end, this DAAD-funded project focuses on analysing and understanding what we are terming ‘violence elsewhere’ – that is, constructions in recent German culture of violence taking place in distant, imagined or temporally distinct times and places. ‘Violence elsewhere’, we propose, offers a stage where violence can become imaginable, representable and doable. If, as we argue, certain constructions of violence become difficult, complex, unspeakable, even unthinkable in post-war German imaginations, the notion of ‘violence elsewhere’ becomes eloquent in novel, essential ways. It reveals something about otherwise occluded, submerged or deeply encoded meanings and functions of violence in German cultures today; and those of tomorrow. As such, it allows us in turn to reflect more broadly on relationships between violence, culture, community and the creation of identities in ways that remain urgent.
The project is led by Dr Clare Bielby of the Centre for Women’s Studies (CWS), University of York and Dr Mererid Puw Davies, Department of German / School of European Languages, Cultures and Society (SELCS), UCL, with participation from academic experts and practitioners from UK, German and other continental European institutions. It considers ‘violence elsewhere’ in a range of different cultural forms from an interdisciplinary and gendered perspective. The project functions around a carefully structured sequence of four workshops and public engagement events in the UK, leading to an international conference on the significance of ‘violence elsewhere’ in Germany since 9/11.
For more information, visit https://sites.google.com/york.ac.uk/violence-elsewhere/home or follow @V_E_Research