This article examines Austrian, British, French and German newsreels and European information films produced in the period from 1948 to 1958 either by private and semi-private newsreel companies or transnational, supranational and national institutions like the Economic Cooperation Administration, Council of Europe, European Coal and Steel Community. These newsreel items and short films are not only records from the beginning and consolidation of the European integration project but also political instruments in this process. On the one hand, they informed the public about the new institutions, their purposes as well as their decision-making procedures; on the other hand, they were intended to create a European identity by rewriting a collective cultural and historical memory. By means of these films, some of them being part of the public relations campaigns of various European institutions and newsreel companies, a consistent picture of ‘Europe’ was shaped. This audiovisual representation of Europe as a geographical and historical entity, or, respectively, ‘the idea of European integration’, was not only a result of a political discourse but also a cultural continuation of a centuries-old iconographic tradition. This article aims at broadening the academic debate on a European identity by analysing the political communication process of the European Integration in the 1950s.
Public relations campaigns; European institutions; European identity; European iconography; images of Europe; political communication
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