International Conference, House of European History, Brussels,
Thursday-Friday, 16-17 May 2019
Call for Papers
Organizers: Wolfram Kaiser (University of Portsmouth) and Anette H. Storeide (NTNU Trondheim) in cooperation with the House of European History, Brussels
In times of growing political polarisation, the past seems to be more contested than ever even in apparently cohesive nation-states. With its problem-solving capacity, democratic quality and political legitimacy increasingly questioned, the European Union has become another battlefield for history and memory. On this battlefield a variety of institutions, networks and individuals promote their versions of the past as more shared or divided, to highlight common experiences or to tell stories about special paths. In Europe, the politics of history focuses especially on the continent’s experience during the twentieth century, the two world wars, the Holocaust and the continent’s division during the Cold War until 1989.
This conference explores attempts to trace, narrate and represent common elements of Europe’s historical experience during the twentieth century as shared history. Actors involved in such processes of narration and representation include political institutions at the European, national or sub-national levels, loosely organized networks, educational and commemorative institutions like memorial-sites, cultural institutions like museums or individual narrative entrepreneurs like historians with a strong media presence. Their strategies may be motivated by pragmatic reasons such as growing numbers of European visitors in national museums, for example, or they could be driven by ideational or ideological objectives such as shaping a new narrative of shared history as a foundational myth of European union or committed to the idea of learning from the past for the future.
This conference seeks to locate the search for and advocacy of, narratives and representations of twentieth century European history as shared history between two dominant narrative paradigms, the singularity of the Holocaust and the totalitarian paradigm. The singularity narrative highlights the European dimension of the destruction of European Jewry as a key focal point which has sometimes been propagated as a suitable foundation myth of European union especially since the 1990s. In contrast, the totalitarian paradigm emphasizes similarities of dictatorial regimes and their systems of rule and oppression occasionally creating a narrative of victimhood - a view that has been propagated especially forcefully by mnemonic entrepreneurs from East-Central Europe, who have highlighted the experience of suffering under Stalinism and communism until 1989.
For this conference we are inviting proposals for papers on contemporary actors and narratives of a shared European past which relate to these two paradigms. Papers can deal with any field from politics to academia, education, the media and a variety of cultural institutions. However, we expect all papers to address, in a structured manner, both the actors who produce narratives, and the narratives themselves, both to strengthen comparative perspectives and to facilitate a possible later publication in the form of an edited book or special issue.
Interested researchers should submit their paper proposal in one Word document with two elements, one abstract of no more than 300 words about the paper with information on its focus, key arguments and research basis, and one short biographical abstract with information on the author and his/her institutional affiliation and relevant ongoing research projects and/or publications. Proposals have to be submitted to both organisers, Wolfram Kaiser (Wolfram.Kaiser@online.de) and Anette H. Storeide (email@example.com), no later than 5 January 2019. The successful applicants will be notified no later than 20 January 2019.
We can cover travel costs up to a maximum of 300 Euros and accommodation in Brussels for one night (16-17 May 2019). Our host in Brussels, the House of European History, will provide coffee, lunch and dinner for all paper-givers. It will also offer a guided tour for the paper-givers of its own museum narrative of Europe’s twentieth century history as shared history as part of the conference programme.