How did the First World War create new spaces for as well as put new pressures on encounters between peoples and cultures from belligerent, colonised and politically neutral countries and what were the lasting consequences (in terms of social, cultural and literary memory) for Europe?

‘Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War’ (CEGC) was a three-year collaborative research project funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) that ran from 2013 until 2016. Led by Dr Santanu Das (King’s College London), this project brought together a cross-disciplinary and multilingual team of researchers – Professor Geert Buelens (Utrecht University), Dr Heike Liebau (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin), and Professor Hubert van den Berg (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland) – and a number of cultural institutions from across Europe to illuminate and examine this overarching question during the centennial years of the war’s commemoration.

The project has now ended and the website will no longer be updated. It serves as an archive of the project and our activities.

Image details (left – right):

  • Cover of Abhi Le Baghdad (On to Baghdad) by Sisir Prasad Sarbadhikari (Calcutta, 1957), the only Indian memoir known so far about captivity in Turkey.
  • Cover of Frederik Van Eeden’s (Dutch) translation of One Hundred Poems by Kabir (London, 1915), translated by Rabindranath Tagore with the assistance of Evelyn Underhill.
  • Cover of Albert Verwey’s Gedichte.
  • Leo Frobenius, Der Völker-Zirkus unserer Feinde (Berlin, s.d.). Frobenius (1873-1938) was a famous German anthropologist who was, and still is, admired in Africa. However, during the First World War he published this pamphlet with the telling title The peoples’ circus of our enemies, in which he mocked the deployment of colonial troops, describing non-European troops as performing animals in a circus.