Symposia within the Festival of European Culture in Karlsruhe (EKT) 2014


Alexander Kitterer

Forgotten Wars – Repressed Wars:
On the Public Perception of Global Conflicts

Curriculum Vitae

Alexander Julian Kitterer wurde 1984 geboren und engagiert sich momentan als freier Blogger. Schon während seines Studiums der Politik-, Islam- und Kommunikationswissenschaft sowie der Arabistik sammelte er durch verschiedene Praktika im Bereich Politikarbeit und Journalismus einschlägige Berufserfahrung.

So arbeitete er zuletzt bei United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Hier war er in der Berliner Vertretung des UN-Flüchtlingskommissars tätig. Sein Fokus lag auch hier auf der Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit.

Von Januar 2007 bis März 2010 war er freier Mitarbeiter bei der Stuttgarter Zeitung – Redaktion Blick vom Fernsehturm, davon arbeitete er insgesamt fünf Monate als fester Redaktionszugehöriger in Vollzeit.

Kitterer spricht fünf Sprachen: Deutsch, Arabisch, Englisch, Französisch und Hebräisch und hat sich bereits an vielen ehrenamtlichen Projekten beteiligt.


Forgotten Wars – Repressed Wars:
On the Public Perception of Global Conflicts

This talk considers neglected wars and conflicts and examines, among other things, to what extent they are forgotten or suppressed, how such reaction patterns can be overlaid in the public perception, and what consequences this has for the victims of global conflicts and for us a society.

“At least once daily the world theatre opens its curtains, and the newspaper subscriber sees murder and violence, war and diplomatic intrigue […]; in one morning, during the time it takes to drink his coffee, there are more oddities than his ancestors were granted during a whole lifetime. […] The frightening thing about the rush of images is its speed and disjointed nature. Miners are buried: a fleeting emotion. A child is abused: brief indignation. The aeroplane is on its way: a moment of attention. In the afternoon everything is forgotten, so that space in the brain is created for orders, inquiries, surveys. There is no time for consideration, remembrance, lingering.”

These lines are from the year 1912, and were written by Walther Rathenau—a writer, industrialist, and former Foreign Minister—in his book Zur Kritik der Zeit (“A Critique of Time”). They focus on growing uncertainty in the face of technological and cultural upheavals at the turn of the century, which were felt in all areas of life. Things that were distant suddenly appeared close at hand, the unknown was apparently becoming accessible. But more than 100 years ago, it became clear that man does not possess a limitless capacity for the reception and categorisation of external environmental influences.

In the digital age, Rathenau’s examples seem a little antiquated, but the core of his observations is all the more applicable. The constantly updated content in social networks and the mass media allows for access to virtually limitless information at any moment in time. Almost every event leaves a digital trace, yet it would be almost impossible for someone to provide even an approximate overview of current global wars and conflicts. Conflicts represent an extremely complex and ambiguous event form. The diversity and asymmetry of actors and interests as well as the density of events quickly overwhelm any observer. Secrecy and a lack of transparency, as can be seen in the use of drones, for example, further these trends. When the media then acts in accordance with this, wars are simply “forgotten”. A “suppression” often accompanies the act of forgetting. Whether this is a conscious act or an unconscious masking, the result remains the same: most wars and conflicts are hardly perceived by the public, and are therefore inadequately dealt with on the political level. Beginning with some observations on the concepts and sources of conflict analysis, this presentation will shed more light on the issues outlined above and will examine those issues through the lens of some current examples.