About the project

The project "Exploring the interwar world: The travelogues of Colin Ross (1885-1945)" focused on the popular culture phenomenon, not on the biography of Colin Ross, travelogue filmmaker, author, and lecturer. His extensive work is exemplary for a number of features of the Weimar republic’s culture; as well it allows insight into specific trends of contemporaneous geopolitical thought, notably the so-called Conservative Revolution.

Ross successfully exploited the opportunities offered by the cultural industry to create, in cooperation with renowned publishing (Ullstein, Brockhaus) and film companies (Ufa, Tobis), his own brand. His success was in no small part founded on a singular journalistic and culture-philosophical mode of thought, situated between a nationalist, colonial tradition and a new global vision. Until 1933, these ideas also found acceptance in the public sphere of the German and Austrian left.

The primary result of the project is, therefore, a critical examination of Weimar popular culture’s entwinement (between periodicals, the book market, cinema, and the lecture circuit) and its ideological contexts, particularly in Ross’s films. The analysis of the long neglected film oeuvre (of which copies are housed at archives in Berlin, London, Moscow, along with the bequest at the Austrian Film Museum) is linked to research data based on Ross’s printed works (books and articles) and lectures. This, in its turn, is connected to a critical historical investigation of the discursive and tropological domains within which Ross’s oeuvre is positioned. Media-hybridity, the marketing strategies as well as the geopolitical observations that characterize Ross’s work have been inspected for their correspondences with contemporaneous scientific discourses, political opinion, and mass-media practices.

This project was initiated by Michael Loebenstein and Siegfried Mattl, the late director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society, Vienna. The latter was also the applicant and project leader until his death in April 2015. The research team included Nico de Klerk, Kristin Kopp, Joachim Schätz and Katalin Teller, with Nico de Klerk taking over as project leader. Ingo Zechner, the new director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society, accompanied the research team as an advisor and financial controller. Jeannine Baker, Iris Fraueneder, Katrin Pilz and Lydia Nsiah provided research assistance. Christiana Perschon, Jacob Benfell and Christopher Taylor provided support for the creation of the website.

The project was conducted at Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society (since March 2019: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital History) in cooperation with Austrian Film Museum, Vienna, and funded by FWF - Austrian Science Fund (P 27244-G23).



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