Abstract: Stunde Null & Empty Space

At the end of the Second World War, Germany entered a sociopolitical “Stunde null,” or “hour zero.” The consequences of the Nazi regime, the physical and mental scarring of Germany and its people, and the empty space and rubble caused by the constant bombing all contributed to this phenomenon. The empty space in politics, in culture, and in cities all had to be addressed. What happens when you are faced with such destruction? Do you rebuild in the style of ‘before’? Do you modernize, move on, and become new and different? Do you memorialize the destruction in an attempt to confront the past head on?
Germans had different answers to this question. In my research, I will explore how the empty space was filled – or left blank- in German life. I will conduct my research through W&M’s study abroad program in Potsdam, Germany. Through exploring the architecture of the postwar period, rebuilding projects, German ‘rubble films’ showcasing and preserving destruction, and nostalgic ‘homeland films’ emphasizing an idyllic past, and other motifs present in German art and culture, I will explore the dominant themes and how they were accepted by the public.

Part 3: Islamophobia in U.S. and German Social Media

This project has been gratifying and eye-opening to me. I am thankful for the opportunity I received to design and conduct my own research. Studying Islamophobic rhetoric has offered me a fascinating, if disheartening, glimpse into the interaction of different threads of oppression. My research design changed over the process and I was glad to have budgeted extra time. I began by examining previous literature, especially Holmes and Casteñada’s discussion of discursive frames surrounding the refugee crisis in Germany and Puar and Rai’s discussion of the terrorist-monster figure (Holmes and Casteñada 2016; Puar and Rai 2002). After hurdling some technical difficulties in the early stages, the project went relatively smoothly. Above all, I enjoyed synthesizing my findings into a paper that draws from Foucauldian concepts and other literature relating to the topic. My paper delves into the intertwining of Islamophobia with the axes of gender and sexuality.

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Research Post 2: When Collective Security Abandoned Abyssinia

I have found, as I continue my study into the response of the world to the Abyssinia Crisis, that the domestic organization of each of the Great Powers directly involved heavily affected their actions during the Crisis. The three major powers directly involved with the Crisis, Great Britain, France, and Italy, each had a very different domestic set of institutions and concerns to their national governments that influenced how they interacted with each other and the League as an institution. Italy, as an authoritarian, Fascist government, organized itself so that the average Italian citizen’s opinion mattered little, and rather the industrialists and industry of the nation influenced the national government more aggressively. The French Government, while a republic, had an executive branch and military apparatus that was extremely concerned about a resurgent Germany and was committed to maintaining the Stresa Front, whilst having a divided civil population that did not express its international desires easily. Britain, as the leading world power with a Liberal Democracy, and with one of the most complex apparatuses of state, had the interesting combination of needing to follow the direction that the people and domestic institutions expressed in voting, but while also having a government apparatus that did not easily change direction and was comparatively conservative. These different styles of governance and domestic interests resulted in fundamentally different approaches between the nations regarding dealing with each other and the League.

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Part Two: Islamophobia in US and German Social Media

I have moved past background research and preliminary sampling, delving into the bulk of my sentiment analysis. My research design has shifted somewhat from my original plan. Most importantly, due to budget constraints, I do not have access to the Twitter firehose of “historical” data. Because I can only view Tweets from years past as individual Tweets, I will be conducting only qualitative analysis. Although this alteration means that my sample will be significantly smaller, I actually think that focusing on nuance will improve my project. After all, what I am really interested in are the narratives that take shape on social media.

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