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Čeněk Pýcha

Čeněk Pýcha

Title: Anthropocene visuality through the lens of state-socialist experience

Abstract: Contemporary Anthropocene visuality (Burtynsky, 2018) may seem familiar in the context of post-communist countries, particularly the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia). Images of vast open-pit coal mines were not only part of the official language of extractivism, but also of people’s everyday lives during the state-socialist era. In the proposed paper, I will analyse the visual images of landscape in communist Czechoslovakia (with a focus on industrial regions). Is it possible to apply the concept of the Anthropocene to images produced before its definition? What kind of re/interpretation of the post-communist experience and historical narrative does the Anthropocene concept offer?

One of the aims of my research is to understand the contemporary attitudes of people with experience of the state socialist regime in the contemporary debate on the climate crisis and the Anthropocene. Images of human activity in the landscape are reinterpreted today with different sentiments than they were in the state-socialist era. How can this fact influence the position and values of individuals in post-communist regions? In my analysis I use official images as well as countercultural production and private and family photographs.

Bio: Čeněk Pýcha holds a PhD in History from the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. His dissertation project focused on the issue of the mediality of history in contemporary society. He was head of the Department of Education of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, now he works as assistant professor of New Media Studies at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. He conducts research in the fields of memory and media studies, and history didactics. He has contributed to several edited volumes and is a coauthor of several history education applications.