How WWI impacts our geopolitical realities today

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was shot dead by Gavilo Princip, an ethnic Serb and Yugoslav nationalist. His assassination, some historians argue, sparked World War I.

One of the deadliest conflicts in history with more than 16 million militant and civilian deaths, the war led to the collapse of three empires, including the Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German empires.  The dislocations caused by the war also contributed greatly to the collapse of the Russian monarchy and the success of Vladimir Lenin’s socialist revolution.

“Many of the global issues that we face today result from the First World War. The present-day configuration of the Middle East and of Eastern and Southeastern Europe results from the collapse of those empires,” said Rebecca Friedman, director of the FIU European Studies Program and co-director of Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence.

After the war, the Paris Peace Conference created new political boundaries, sometimes after only cursory consultation with the local population. This continues to be problematic in the 21st-century struggles for national identity and political autonomy.

“We can imagine how leaders and citizens in Russia and Ukraine are, arguably, still fighting over questions involving the salience of empires or nation-states,” Friedman said. “Likewise, when it comes to issues of sovereignty, conflicts in the Middle East result from the geopolitics of the post-World War One. Nations, such as Iraq and Syria, are not organic entities but rather are the outcome of the desires of the victors of war.”

FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I with a series of academic and cultural events that will attempt to explain why the world still lives in the shadow of that conflict.

The series, “World War I Commemoration: One Hundred Years After,” will run through April 2015 throughout South Florida. Events include a symposium; panel discussion by FIU faculty; video conference with national and international experts; a robust film series; and a visual arts exhibit at the Wolfsonian-FIU in Miami Beach.

“We invite everyone to come to our events, both on and off campus, to learn about the war and its continuing impact today,” Friedman said

Series highlights

The commemoration kicked off Sept. 8 with the U.S. Premiere of the French documentary Apocalypse: La 1ere Guere Mondiale (Apocalypse: The First World War). The documentary, complete with English subtitles, is comprised of five episodes. Screenings of the remaining four episodes are scheduled for later this month and October.

A symposium, “World War I: A Century Later – Origins and Legacies,” is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20, at New World Symphony in Miami Beach. The symposium will include a keynote speech, panel discussion and music from the Great World War. It is free and open to the public, but registration and a ticket is required. This is event is sponsored by the Knight Foundation and HistoryMiami, in collaboration with the University of Miami, the FIU Department of History, the FIU School of International and Public Affairs, Books & Books, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, New World Symphony and The Wolfsonian-FIU.

Led by FIU faculty, a panel discussion, “WWI Commemoration: One Hundred Years After,” is scheduled for Oct. 9 in the SIPA Café at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The interactive discussion will explore the historical roots and contemporary ramifications of World War I by providing interdisciplinary perspectives on the experiences of war. It is free and open to the public.

A virtual roundtable, “1914 Revisited: The EU-US-Russian Triangle,” is scheduled for Oct. 21 in the Green Library Rm. 156 at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The video conference will connect some of the country’s top experts with experts in Europe for a live conversation. Space is limited and a reservation is required.

The World War I Film Series will continue into Deceember with screenings of a variety of films and documentaries, including All Quiet on the Western Front, Gallipoli, Path of Glory, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the PBS documentary Lawrence of Arabia – The Battle for the Arab World. For a detailed film series schedule, click here.

The visual arts exhibit “Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture” will launch Nov. 11 and will be on display until April 5, 2015 at the Wolfsonian-FIU. It will show how artists, designers and filmmakers responded to the unprecedented qualities of war, including new technologies, the massive mobilization of armaments industries, and the everyday experiences of soldiers in the trenches. Featuring paintings, sculpture, posters and photographs from the era, the exhibit focuses on the relationship between humans and machines as a key theme of wartime visual culture.

For a detailed schedule, click here. “World War I Commemoration:  One Hundred Years After” is a collaboration of the Ruth K. and Shepard Broad Distinguished Lecture Series, Miami-Florida European Union Center of Excellence, European Studies Program, Consulate General of France in Miami, Le Cercle Français, Pi Delta Phi, Department of Modern Languages, European Student Association, Council for Student Organizations, Middle East Studies Program, the Department of History and The Wolfsonian-FIU.

World War I Commemoration

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