This sounds like a good program for researchers interested in post-WWII Europe, the Cold War and globalisation.
Alternative Culture – Home
Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching “Alternative Culture Beyond Borders: Past and Present of the Arts and Media in the Context of Globalization” is a three-year (2007-2010) international research project which explores the continued relevance and significance of the concept of alternative culture in the era of globalization—a moment in which many of the frameworks that have been used to study culture have been placed into question and new theories are being developed. This exploration of contemporary alternative culture begins from a comparative, cross-cultural analysis of the phenomenon and idea of ‘alternativeness’ from the nineteenth century to the present, with an especial emphasis on the recent history of Central and Eastern European societies after World War II and their similarities and difference to Western ‘Cold War’ culture.
It would be interesting to find out more about what is meant by ‘alternative’ culture. At first glance, and without knowing too much about the project, the concept of ‘alternativeness’ would appear to be quite a new approach to understanding ‘Cold War culture’. ‘Alternativeness’ suggests to me an underlying free-market concept, where consumers of ‘culture’ can choose from a range of alternative versions. It therefore implies a single system in which these choices can be made. Radically different from the Cold War mentality that the world was in the grip of a life-and-death struggle between two mutually opposed and radically incompatible ideologies. In fact, I wonder what the consequences of talking about this sort of transformation in terms of ‘culture’ rather than political ideologies and systems. Does this represent a softening of Cold War difference? ‘Reducing’ it to cultural difference?
Still, like I said, I don’t know much about this project and could be way off with these comments.