An Archaeology of the Iron Curtain

Material and Metaphor

Omslag för An Archaeology of the Iron Curtain: Material and Metaphor

McWilliams, Anna

The Iron Curtain was seen as the divider between East and West in Cold War Europe. The term is closely connected to the Cold War and expressions such as ‘behind the Iron Curtain’ or ‘after the fall of the Iron Curtain’ are common within historical discussions in the second half of the twentieth century. Even if the term was used regularly as a metaphor there was also a material side with a series of highly militarised borders running throughout Europe. The metaphor and the material borders developed together and individually, sometimes intertwined and sometimes separate.

In my research I have carried out two fieldwork studies at sites that can be considered part of the former Iron Curtain. The first study area is located between Italy and Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia) in which the division between the two towns of Nova Gorica on the Slovenian side and Gorizia on the Italian side was investigated. The second study area is located on the border between Austria and Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia) within two national parks. A smaller study was also carried out in Berlin as the Berlin Wall is considered of major importance in the context of the Iron Curtain. This research has resulted in large quantities of sources and information and a constant need to re-evaluate the methods used within an archaeology of a more recent past.

This thesis falls within what is usually referred to as contemporary archaeology, a fairly young sub-discipline of archaeology. Few large research projects have so far been published, and methods have been described as still somewhat experimental. Through my fieldwork it has been possible to acknowledge and highlight the problems and opportunities within contemporary archaeology. It has become clear how the materials stretch both through time and place demonstrating the complex process of how the material that archaeologists investigate can be created. The material of the Iron Curtain, is also well worth studying in its own right.

Huddinge : Södertörns högskola, 2013. 239 sidor.

ISBN 978-91-86069-78-0

Serie: Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, 1652-7399 ; 86

Serie: Södertörn Archaeological Studies, 1652-2559 ; 9

Serie: Stockholm Studies in Archaeology, 0349-4128 ; 59