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The Code of Protest. Images of Peace in the West German Peace Movements, 1945-1990

By Benjamin Ziemann

Abstract

The article examines posters produced by the peace movements in the Federal Republic of\ud Germany during the ColdWar, with an analytical focus on the transformation of the iconography\ud of peace in modernity. Was it possible to develop an independent, positive depiction of peace\ud in the context of protests for peace and disarmament? Despite its name, the pictorial selfrepresentation\ud of the campaign ‘Fight against Nuclear Death’ in the late 1950s did not draw\ud on the theme of pending nuclear mass death. The large-scale protest movement in the 1980s\ud against NATO’s 1979 ‘double-track’ decision contrasted female peacefulness with masculine\ud aggression in an emotionally charged pictorial symbolism. At the same time this symbolism\ud marked a break with the pacifist iconographic tradition that had focused on the victims of war.\ud Instead, the movement presented itself with images of demonstrating crowds, as an anticipation\ud of its peaceful ends. Drawing on the concept of asymmetrical communicative ‘codes’ that has\ud been developed in sociological systems theory, the article argues that the iconography of peace in\ud peace movement posters could not develop a genuinely positive vision of peace, since the code of\ud protest can articulate the designation value ‘peace’ only in conjunction with the rejection value\ud ‘war’

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:10789

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