Université de Strasbourg

Strasbourg, a Laboratory for the future

Strasbourg, a Laboratory for future (1880-1930) News ways of thinking and presenting a « contested artistic heritage » between France and Germany

USIAS Fellow : Alexandre Kostka
Post-doc: Anne Doris Mayer

This research seeks to establish a trans-disciplinary dialogue between art history, cultural history, medical history, as well as military history for the crucial period when the capital of the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen, which was recovered by France in 1918, was used as a “laboratory” by both Germany and France in order to present their aspirations for cultural hegemony to Europe, using the city space as a place to exhibit their visions of modernity. Whereas past approaches have rather insisted on the nationalist and propagandistic aspect of the cultural policies which took place under the auspices of the Museums, the University and different policies of architecture and town-planning, the present research proposal insists that the methods of investigation used up to now tend to have a performative effect, which (not always unconsciously) “constructs” the differences which they seek to establish between “German” and “French”. It is therefore important to acknowledge the specific quality of cultural heritage in Strasbourg as a disputed semantic complex (a “contested heritage”, J. Tunbridge), and to root the city as a specific “space” (a “geography of knowledge”, D.N. Livingstone, C. Jacob) in which complex negotiations between competing cultural self-definitions and projections of identity take place. Led in close cooperation with the Museums of Strasbourg which are currently preparing an exhibition about the shared history of the Alsatian capital, this project associates academics and museum curators from Strasbourg, Berlin, Paris and Munich and other cities, and seeks to enrich the city’s collection of cultural heritage by establishing links which have in many cases been severed by the historical circumstance.


France 2030