The Cultures of History Forum is part of the ‘History and the Public Sphere’ research area at the Imre Kertész Kolleg at Friedrich Schiller University Jena. It is concerned with how the countries between Germany and Russia and on the Balkan peninsula, which more than any other European region have been shaped by the vicissitudes of the twentieth century, address their past and how history is being negotiated in the public sphere. Our focus is less on scholarly discourse, than on public debates and processes of interpreting history and on the way history is exhibited in museums.
The cultures of history in these countries are largely bound to their national cultures. As a result, public debates, which are generally conducted locally in the respective languages, rarely cross borders or cross paths with conversations in other countries of the region. The Cultures of History Forum aims to document the specificity of these discussions of history in East Central and Southeastern Europe. And in the articles you find the most significant contributions to these debates summarized and contextualized in English.
We are not concerned with simply describing cultures of memory of Eastern Europe, which are increasingly fragmented into national narratives. Instead, we aim to identify which current lines of development, problems and exigencies are constitutive for them. By examining such cultures of history in a transnational context we hope to gain a better understanding of their similarities, differences, entanglements and continuities.
Cultures of history do not happen only in texts; images and other visual phenomena are often even more critical to them. The Cultures of History Forum thus not only recognizes the value of debates and arguments, but engages expressive images, and in some cases will present video material as well.
All texts are reviewed by the directors and academic staff of the Imre Kertész Kolleg.
Our ideas about the past influence our perceptions of the present. By the same token, history can hardly be understood other than as something constructed in and from the present. A culture of history is the interface between these two dimensions of time. It comes about when the past is interpreted in the present and acquires meaning for people’s lives. But its horizon is not limited to the past and present; the future, too, plays a critical role. While we interpret the past in the present, we do so with a view to the future and to how it can be shaped.
This complex interplay of temporalities that materializes in a culture of history is influenced by a variety of factors. Individual agents and institutions, policies and special interests, and aesthetic ideas and moral conventions all determine how history is represented. But if the conditions for history’s emergence are diverse, then the material phenomena it produces are even more so. History becomes tangible in monuments, films, school textbooks, historical novels and comic books; and it is displayed and plays a major role in historical museums and exhibits. In the Cultures of History Forum we focus specifically on public negotiations of history in debates and discussions as well as on history exhibitions.
Prof. Dr. Joachim von Puttkamer
Director, Imre Kertész Kolleg
Dr. Michal Kopeček
Director, Imre Kertész Kolleg
Dr. Rasa Baločkaitė
Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
Dr. Stevo Đurašković
University of Zagreb, Croatia
Dr. Aliaksei Lastouski
Institute of Political Studies “Political Sphere”, Belarus
Charles University, Czech Republic
Dr. Jovana Mihajlović Trbovc
Slovenian Academy of Science, Slovenia
Dr. Eva Kovacs
Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI), Austria
Dr. Lavinia Stan
St. Francis Xavier University, Canada
Dr. Nikolai Vukov
Bulgarian Academy of Science, Bulgaria