The Readings of the Past: On Memory and Memorialization in Central and Eastern Europe
(As part of the Third Euroacademia International Conference ‘Re-Inventing Eastern Europe’ to be held in Berlin, Germany, 28-29 March 2014)
Deadline for paper proposals: 25 February 2014
One can look at the EU’s formation as based on forgetting rather than remembering. For Europe, as Tony Judt puts it, ‘the past is another country’. In connection with the European integration of CEE countries, one dichotomised pattern came out of their particular relation with the past when meeting the EU’s amnesic nature. The process of integration became indicative of the second-rate concern for the newcomers’ past and a similar pattern of amnesia between 1945/1989 moments as trademarks for Europe took shape. Central and Eastern European past became a function of othering inside the EU that preserves a core monopoly on selective remembrance while peripherializes issues of high salience for the new members.
By looking at the EU institutional narratives, it was argued that within the texts of the European treaties we can already find visible attempts to unify the historical roots of integration in forms that promote an ‘official’ historiography through which ‘some aspects of the European legacy are accepted and some are definitively rejected’ (Larat 2005: 283) while the EU’s enlargements were shaped also by an acquis historique communautaire. In the last twenty years it became visible the asymmetrical nature of cognitive perceptions on the ‘proper way’ to deal with the past in the two socially constructed sides of Europe. In this sense, ‘a division along the East-West line is still an object of reproduction and reification’ (Challand 2009: 397). On one side, from a Western Europeans perspective, if we are to use the East-West slope stereotypes, the last 25 years are a pretext for not cozy commemoration of unclear circumstances in 1989 that have anyway to be integrated as European in their victory and non-European in their past. On the other side, from an Eastern European perspective, emerges an embarrassing confusion on a multitude of not yet clear events that leads to discursive avoidance of remembrance, sometimes politically correct sometimes not, in favor of simply commemorative discourses joined by an exotic feeling of being somehow different and particular in the actual context of Europe.
Various authors made a research case from the emergence of a ‘subaltern’ type of memory politics for the East European new members inside the EU. CEE countries made insistent demands for inclusion in a pan-European mnemonic loci of an alternative view of the history, and unfolded resistance towards a traditionally liminal status assigned to them in Europe. ‘Becoming’ European has become a struggle for the recognition of Europeaness. However this struggle did not found much attention and willingness to listen from the ‘old’ Europe that prefers to look away when the thin line drawn on a ‘settled’ view of history is questioned. And this in the context of an identity making struggle inside the EU that has so often the tendency to endorse one particular western identity through an assimilationary attitude towards newcomers (Blokker 2008).
This panel aims to look further in a future research agenda on competing remembrances involved in the EU politics and in the limits of the EU’s inclusive attitude towards the past of the new members. This is to pursue within the mentioned puzzle an analysis of the nexuses involved in the European memory and identity making by looking at the ways alternative narrations of the past are included or limited in their effort to become part of a common European memory understood as legitimizing narrative for unity.
Papers are welcome on (but not exclusively) the following topics:
- Central and Eastern Europe in Search of its Past
- Memory and Memorialization: Trademarks in CEE History Reading
- Selective Remembrance and Forgetting in CEE
- Narratives of Europeaness: Claiming the European Past
- Official EU Historiographies: Reading the Past Selectively
- Historical Inclusion/Exclusion of the CEE Past Within the European Memory Narratives
- Sites of Memorialization in CEE
- EU’s Acquis Historique Communautaire
- The Past and the Need for Recognition
- Alternative Readings of Historical Trademarks in CEE Countries
- History and Identity
If interested in participating, please send a maximum 300 words abstract together with the details of your affiliation until 25th of February 2014 at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the complete details of the conference and on-line application please see: