While the HERA project “Making War, Mapping Europe” (MWME) – in which CRAM member Dr Leighton James is involved – is approaching a conclusion, a central aspect of the collaborative research project’s output will continue to be available to scholars and the broader public alike: its online exhibition. This exhibition employs a wide array of objects and essays to explore intercultural contact within military contexts and can be found under this link:
In six thematic sections, the exhibition “Making War, Mapping Europe” portrays cultural contacts among soldiers from France, England, and Germany who were stationed at the periphery of Europe and in the Middle East during the “long 19th century.” The exhibition was conceptualized for both an academic audience and interested laypeople. Visitors here receive a visual impression of the presence of Napoleonic soldiers in Egypt, Italy, and Russia, as well as German military members’ encounters with the Ottoman Empire and the Balkan region during the First World War. Two further sections of the exhibition are dedicated to Bavarian soldiers in Greece in the 19th century and the British soldiers in Egypt from the 1880’s up to the end of the Great War.
These encounters are evidenced by the array of objects available for view in the exhibition: photographs, works of art, souvenirs, and various daily objects that have survived. Among these objects is a German steel helmet, specifically designed to enable Muslim soldiers to touch their forehead to the ground during ritual prayer, and a braid of hair that a Napoleonic officer, who had landed in Russian war captivity, had kept in memory of his Russian girlfriend. These objects and hundreds of other pictures and artifacts in the exhibition illustrate how military operations and expeditions ultimately functioned as catalysts for various forms of intercultural encounter. Their subject matter and greater implications cover a great spectrum ranging from questions of violence and gender, to knowledge transfer, and finally to the culture of memory surrounding these events.
Artifacts were collected with the support of many museums, archives, and private persons. The historians and art historians from the collaborative research project embedded them in the historical context. General thematic essays then augment the exhibition and simultaneously present the initial research findings of the three year project.
The online exhibition arose within the framework of the HERA-funded international research project ‘Making War, Mapping Europe,’ which is led by Professor Dr. Oliver Janz at the Freie Universität Berlin, and which is supported by its members at the Trinity College Dublin and the British universities of Swansea and York.