ICTS Webinar Series Autumn 2021 –
“Embodying ‘Mitteleuropa’ on camera – space, myth and oral testimony in Stanislaw Mucha’s documentary Die Mitte (2004)”, Dr Yvonne Zivkovic (University of Graz), 15 Dec 2021 @ 13:00 IST (online)

In the 1980s, a group of Eastern European dissidents resuscitated the notion of “Mitteleuropa” or Central Europe, previously associated with Germanic cultural and economic eastward expansion, to protest against the disappearance of the Soviet occupied part of the continent from the cultural map of the West. Debates over whether this Central Europe was an imagined, nostalgically distorted space have continued to this day, gaining new relevance with the postSocialist rise of right-wing nationalism in the states of the so-called Visegrad group (Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary), while running counter to progressive ideas associated with the Central Europe imagined in the 1980s. Polish director Stanislaw Mucha, based in Germany, captures different myths and notions about Central Europe in his documentary, “Die Mitte” (The Center). The camera team visits locations in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, all of which claim to be located at the center of Europe. Merging the genres of road trip and documentary, Mucha places sometimes humorous, sometimes somber interviews with residents between vistas of ‘eastern’ wilderness and dilapidated urban landscapes. These encounters with the residents of various Central European towns and villages and the stories they tell emphasize that “Mitteleuropa” is embodied and narrated through its people as much as in historically palimpsestic spaces. Filmed in several languages and released in 2004, the year of the EU ‘Osterweiterung,’ it highlights the ambivalent notions of center and periphery, development and backwardness, but also of mobility and belonging that are still associated with the European East

Yvonne Zivkovic is a Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Graz, where she is working on her second book on the representation of heritage by contemporary migrant authors in Germany and Austria. Her first book, The Literary Politics of Mitteleuropa – Reconfiguring Spatial Memory in Austrian and Yugoslav Literature after 1945 was published in February with Camden House. She received her Ph.D. in German and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, New York. Her research focuses on the relationship between German speaking lands and Eastern Europe, with particular interests in migration, memory, gender, affect, film and Jewish Studies.

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Meeting ID: 751 572 6874

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Fáilte Roimh Chách