Contact zones. Cultural practices in the German-Czech-Polish border region

Research team: Katharina Schuchardt, Ira Spieker

In the course of the 20th and 21st century, historical developments in the German-Czech-Polish border region have been determined by caesura that have left their marks in the region and in the landscape, but also in the biographies of the actors. During one single lifetime alone, considerable adjustments were indispensable; frameworks and demarcations changed in spatial as well as in political-ideological regard. Up to today, concepts of commemorative culture compete with each other, interfere with each other and influence each other.

The research project „Contact zones. Cultural practices in the German-Czech-Polish border region“ undertakes a qualitative analysis of transnational contacts, asking how history is constituted and how the present is negotiated, and which mutual influences and forms of approach, exchange and dissociation do exist. To achieve this, institutionalized or informal initiatives in the areas of culture, sports and social commitment as well as local networks between towns and communities were investigated.

Interviews with relevant actors of trans border activities were conducted, with a view of making their motives, their scope of action and their approaches transparent. Trans border initiatives and activities were accompanied by Participant Observation. The reception resp. consumption of the respective offers were recorded within the framework of questionnaires The compiled material is available for further studies in the web portal “Life-historical archive for Saxony”. In the framework of the project an international and interdisciplinary conference took place in Dresden in 2017. Its results are documented in the edited volume “Kontaktzonen und Grenzregionen” (Contact zones and Border regions). Additionally the trilingual home page informs on initiatives in the German-Czech-Polish border region, to serve as a networking platform.

Currently the interviews material is being translated into a performance titled “ZÓNA KONTAKTU/KONTAKTZONE”. Here, the ISGV cooperates with the cultural centre Veřejný sál Hraničář (Ústí nad Labem) and GOGLMOGL production.The project has been running since September 2015. From then on until August 2017 it has been funded by The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as The Saxon Ministry of Science and the Fine Arts. During this period Uta Bretschneider, Sarah Kleinmann and Arnika Peselmann were part of the project team.