The Confederate Battle Flag: Why is it perceived so differently in the US and Europe/Germany?
MetadataShow full item record
Abstract The Confederate Battle Flag: Why is it perceived so differently in the US and Europe/Germany? Karin Crelling Chair of the Supervisory Committee Michael Allen School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences I was born and raised in Germany and came to the United States in 1996. In 2010 I became an American citizen, via the “Naturalization” process. I went back to school in 2013 and, being always interested in history, took a liking to early US history. The Civil War fascinated me the most, and the ongoing debate over what the war was fought over created my desire to investigate why the Confederate Battle Flag is so differently perceived in my old and new home country. The Confederate Flag disrupts the public sphere in the US, but not as much in Europe. Recent debates over the Confederate Battle Flag in the US sparked my interest in how its perception has changed over the decades since 1865. In Europe it is still mainly a symbol for rebellion, not a reminder of violation of human rights and slavery. Specifically, in Germany the flag was flown during the Velvet Revolutions in the late 1980s. These rebellions eventually led to political changes and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Researching the educational system in both countries to distinguish how differently the era of the American Civil War is taught in schools here and abroad suggests that there is a strong relationship between those educational systems and how the Confederate Flag is appropriated in popular culture. Using Critical Theory, I explore the reasons behind that difference in awareness of its representation. I am comparing popular culture creations like movies, fashion, and music that use the image of the Confederate Battle Flag in the United States and Germany. It is important to understand how a person’s upbringing can shape their reality. I will also briefly discuss other European countries like Ireland, Russia and Italy to show how these nations have their own unique understanding of what the Confederate Battle Flag represents.