​​​​​​2016 ISSEI conference 

The University of Lodz, Poland

Since the fall of Communism in the early 1990s, not only have the divisions and tensions between Western Europe and Eastern Europe not vanished but they seem to have manifestly intensified. This becomes evident when we look at mutual perceptions of Germans, Poles, and Russians, in three neighboring nations which have been regarded, respectively, as representing “the old/Western,” “the new,” and “the Eastern” parts of Europe.

            Perceptions of the “other,” whether relating to national identities, political goals, historical contexts, traditions or cultural values—often feed into mutual misunderstandings, resentments, accusations and hostilities. We may say, quoting Hans Süssmuth, that the images people have of other nations, which, consciously or not, they have internalized, often play as important a role in international relations as bilateral treaties or economic interests.

            This workshop thus seeks to discuss the problems arising from images of and discourses about “the Other” in post-1989 media, drawn mainly from press articles and political caricatures on the subject of internal and/or international conflicts. Our discussion will focus  on how popular views of neighboring nations, including stereotypes, slogans and cultural clichés, are used in public debates, often exploiting aspects of a nation’s historical, cultural and political background, to emphasize its “otherness.”

            Specific questions include but are not limited to: why do Poles, Germans, and Russians understand terms such as “Western civilization,” “Russian traditions,” “the Putin generation,” “Russlandversteher,” and “Polish resentments” so differently? Why is the image of non-systemic opposition in Russia based on narratives of internal enemies, traitors, and “foreign-currency hookers,” that is, on an anti-Western discourse? How can we explain the German attitude to its relationship with Russia and with Poland? How does the Polish attitude to German-Russian relations impact its collective identity and political outlooks? 

Papers are welcome on any aspect of the above questions, and are not limited to the nations specified here. 

Please submit a 250-400 word abstract to Magdalena Żakowska by 31 March 2016, at magdazakowska@uni.lodz.pl

Workshop: Subtexts/Stereotypes: The Image of the ‘Other’ in Central and Eastern European Media

Chair: Dr. Magdalena Żakowska
University of Lodz, Poland