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International collaborative research project:

Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War (CEGC), funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA)

Project team
Dr Santanu Das, King’s College London, United Kingdom (project leader)
Prof. Dr Geert Buelens, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Dr Heike Liebau, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr Hubert van den Berg, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

Associated non-academic partners
Eye Film Institute Netherlands (Amsterdam), Imperial War Museum London, Lautarchiv der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, In Flanders Fields Museum Ypres, Museum Europäischer Kulturen (Berlin), deBuren bureau (Brussels), Deutsches Literaturarchiv (Marbach).


The First World War has often been defined as the ‘clash of empires/clash of civilizations’. In contrast, this project proposes that it could be equally defined as a watershed event in the history of cultural encounters. Between 1914 and 1918, on French soil alone – in its trenches, fields and factories – there were over 1 million Asian (Indian, Chinese, Indochinese) and African (Senegalese, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian) men, both soldiers and non-combatants, in addition to soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Newfoundland. The central research question this project poses is: How did the First World War create new spaces for as well as put new pressures on encounters in Europe between peoples and cultures from belligerent, colonized and politically neutral countries and what were the lasting consequences (in terms of social, cultural and literary memory) for Europe?

Larissa Schmid: Cultural Encounters with and among ‘colonial’ prisoners of war (POWs) during the First World War

in cooperation with