20 Dec 2022

Funding by the Leibniz Society for the joint project “Adjustment and Radicalisation. Dynamics in Popular Culture(s) in Pre-War Eastern Europe”

The research project “Adjustment and Radicalisation. Dynamics in Popular Culture(s) in Pre-War Eastern Europe” headed by Matthias Schwartz from the Berlin-based Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL) will be funded with a total sum of just under a million Euros as part of the program “Leibniz Collaborative Excellence.”

The three-year joint project will explore the dynamics of popular cultures in Belarus, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine since the 1980s. It is the first such project to choose an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. In cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam (ZFF), and the Professorship for Slavic Literary and Cultural Studies (with a focus on Polish Studies) at the University of Potsdam, the project will look at a number of case studies and study a variety of popular culture phenomena and genres such as pop music or TV shows.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine poses novel challenges to all research projects and researchers concerned with Eastern Europe. To better understand what factors lead to this war, the project looks beyond the areas of politics and economics. Given that populist and nationalist worldviews and resentments have enabled political processes of radicalization in Russia and beyond, the project will analyze just how these were able to spread in popular cultures in the five Eastern (Central) European countries listed above. It is especially important to analyze the self-reinforcing tendencies of adjustment and protest as well as the instrumentalization of seemingly non-political cultural practices and products—including those from the area of the counter-public—by governmental and non-governmental actors.

The project aims to reframe the current orientation within Eastern European studies by providing essential leads for the historical, cultural, and literary study of popular culture(s). To this end, an international research network of recognised experts is to be established.  Furthermore, it aims to gain a better general understanding of the dynamics and functioning of popular culture(s) under the conditions of digitalization and globalization.