“Courtly Gifts and Cultural Diplomacy” explores the history of British-Russian state relations from the perspective of art and material culture. This richly illustrated book presents manifold practices of courtly gift-giving and vivid case studies of British-Russian artistic diplomacy over the centuries. It traces a visual and material history of cross-cultural dialogue that starts with an early English map of Russia made in the 16th century and ends with gifts of Fabergé art objects and domestic photographs exchanged between the British royal family and the family of Tsar Nicholas II in late Imperial Russia. Twelve expert authors from academia, the arts, and the museum sectors in Britain, Russia, and the United States present new narratives and critical interpretations based on material from previously unexplored archives. Their diverse approaches reveal the importance of artistic diplomacy and the agency of gifts of art and material culture in courtly and state relations.
Can geographers actually create their fatherlands? The story of the territorial reconstruction of East Central Europe in the wake of WWI gives an affirmative answer.
The protagonists of this book were a cohort of young, talented and exceedingly ambitious people fascinated by the modernity of late 19th century German geographical sciences. During wartime they proved particularly successful in scholarship and in scientifically based national propaganda. Some of them succeeded in influencing the spatial idea of ‘just borders’ that allegedly corresponded best to geographical and ethnical realities. They offered ready-made solutions to questions of the self-determination of nations formulated by US President Wilson. But already during the Paris Peace Conference, geographers moved to concepts of a ‘natural’, ‘biological’ border, to ideas of the subjugation of entire ethnic groups. They now cherished visions of a demographic and geographical utopia of states that were ethnically homogeneous.
Wewelsburg Castle in Germany figures prominently in right-wing conspiracy theories and popular culture. This book sheds light onto the background and impact of these myths for the first time.
During the Nazi era, this Westphalian castle became a key venue for gatherings of high ranking SS leaders. After World War II, rumors about occult SS rituals made the place a pilgrimage site of the extreme right. The northern tower’s ornamental sun wheel design, today known as the “Black Sun,” appears in thrillers, comic books, and in the right-wing music scene. It has morphed into a dubious visual element of today’s pop culture and is now familiar to people throughout the world as a symbol of neofascist and alt-right groups. The lavishly illustrated volume traces facts and fiction about the origins and current reception of the myths related to Wewelsburg Castle and the sun wheel symbol.