During the Cold War, cultural mediation between the East and the West was often accomplished by individuals who, unconstrained by prevailing ideologies, were able to influence political and ideological transformations through their work. This panel focuses on cultural mediators across the Iron/Bamboo Curtain in German-speaking countries, Eastern Europe, and Asia, and examines the role of individual agency in transmitting culture globally.
West Berlin producer Manfred Durniok, whose credits include the Oscar-winning feature Mephisto (1981) and the seven-part documentary series That Was the GDR (Das war die DDR, 1993), was one such visionary who bridged the Cold War divide through extensive collaboration with countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain—East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Bulgaria. He also ventured beyond the Bamboo Curtain and became a pioneer in arranging partnerships between the Chinese and German cinema industries. He produced and bought films in other Asian countries including Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and South and even North Korea. Despite his role in fostering global cinema, his career remains virtually unexamined outside of Manfred Durniok – Films & Friends (1996), a collection of short essays written by friends and collaborators and published by his own production firm.
The Special Session welcomes papers that deal with cultural exchange between East and West during the Cold War and individuals who defied ideological imperatives and political constraints. It examines the ways in which culture influences politics and vice versa. Please send a 200-word abstract and a short CV to Qinna Shen ([log in to unmask]) by March 20.
Qinna Shen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of German
Bryn Mawr College
101 N. Merion Ave.
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010-2899