The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914, in Sarajevo is universally recognized as the immediate cause of the diplomatic crisis that led directly to the First World War, thus marking the onset of the twentieth century and the decline of European international hegemony.
It was also highly predictable, utterly random, and entirely disproportionate to its global cataclysmic consequences. My research project thus treats the Sarajevo assassination as what the historian Pierre Nora calls a “lieu de mémoire,” a site of memory on which to explore how this contradictory past has been re-used, re-interpreted and, even, re-invented through different time frames and in diverse social, cultural, and political contexts.
By examining monuments, museums, memoirs, anniversaries, art, textbooks, literature, folklore, film, media, and scholarly writing itself, my work aims to produce a compelling and innovative monograph that explores the manifold ways in which Princip’s act has been conjured and construed since it first entered human consciousness as an event of world historical significance.
In particular, the study seeks understanding of how this troubling past has been absorbed and assimilated in different specifically European contexts and, thereby, of “28 June 1914’s” inherent capacity to link the diverse nations and regions of Europe into a “gesamteuropäische Erinnerungskultur,” or European-wide memory culture - a concept which has attracted a great deal of attention from academics and the EU of late, as scholars and others seek to probe the roots and possibilities of pan-European awareness and identity.