European Cultural Life During the Cold War (CWCult)


During the Cold War, European cultural life was politicized in specific ways which affected conditions, possibilities, discourses and public opinions on arts and culture in multiple ways. The research group will conduct studies into the impact of Cold War on cultural life as well as how artists and intellectuals were players in the Cultural Cold War. A particular attention will be to consider how the arts took part in this, in order to highlight how and in which ways works of arts and artistic manifestations influenced and were marked by this context. This calls for an interdisciplinary approach including historians as well as researchers of the arts and cultural studies and area studies.

The approach is to consider the cultural cold war as a European phenomenon, as a theatre where policies and programs from the two great powers of the East and the West were directed towards the European cultural life in order to win the minds and hearts of the Europeans, first of all ‘intellectuals’ and artist which could influence public opinion. Even when certain activities were conducted within a national or local framework, these were often programs or policies on a European scale which were adapted to and negotiated with national objectives. Such an approach will make it possible to compare studies into different areas of culture, different European settings, and to compare East and West European cases.

How did the Cold War effect the conceptions of art and the discourse of art criticism? What impact had the Cold War on interpretations of musical or artistic style? How are we to evaluate the effect of cultural diplomacy and does it matter what they perform or exhibit? How did artists or musicians act and negotiate the aims when they went on cultural missions? How did theUSand the Soviets apply certain programs or policies and how was their initiatives received? Such questions will be at the core of the discussions of the research group.

The purpose of the research group will be to act as an interdisciplinary forum for research and scholarly discussion on European cultural life during the Cold War. One main objective will be to facilitate discussions, small- or large-scale conferences, and to work as a network for scholars within this field of research. A second main objective will be to facilitate the application for a collective research project on Danish Cultural Life during the Cold War in a European perspective, 1948-1968. Researchers fromCopenhagenor other universities inDenmarkor abroad are invited to participate.

Short-term activities will include: the establishment and consolidation of the research group; preparation of the application for a research project on Danish cultural life during the cold war including an advisory board and a core group of researchers for this project; a workshop on cultural diplomacy, considering methodological questions such as: Does it work? How do we evaluate the effect? And does it matter what they play or exhibit? (Maj 2013)


Michael Fjeldsøe (principal project manager, IKK/Musicology)

Poul Villaume (SAXO/History)

Morten Thing (RUC University Library/History)

Morten Michelsen (IKK/Musicology)

Nils Arne Sørensen (SDU/History)

Peter Madsen (IKK/Literature)

Marianne Rostgaard (AAU/History)

Anne Dvinge (IKK/Modern Culture)

Karen Westphal Eriksen (IKK/Art History)

Josef Bathika (History)

Rasmus Holmboe (IKK/Musicology)

Søren Møller Sørensen (IKK/Musicology)

Liza Burmeister Kaaring (IKK/Art History)

Jens Tang Kristensen (IKK/Art History)

Kristian Handberg (IKK/Art History)


For more information on this group, meeting dates and possibilities of joining the group, please contact:

Michael Fjeldsøe
Department of Arts and Cultural Studies
Musicology Section
Klerkegade 2
DK-1308 København K