Welcome to the ifa Conference for European Commemoration 2014!

Remembrance is a process related to society as a whole. It offers a chance for a virulent dialogue both between cultures and generations on the future of Europe.

In the public sphere, remembrance almost always involves conflicting interpretations of the past. It determines how we understand the present and form decisions for the future. 2014 has been marked by several commemorations. However, the Centenary of the First World War in particular has demonstrated that different forms of commemoration exist across Europe. The experiences of war have been different and have become part of our societies after the contemporary witnesses died. They continue to live within history textbooks, cultural productions, academia or the media and form different “regions of memory”.

The differences in the way remembrance is practised, whether by nations, regions, social groups, gender or generations demonstrate the difficulties inherent in achieving collective remembrance. In the wake of EU enlargement and attempts to Europeanise remembrance, it seems important to shed light on the problems that can arise from such an approach and the chances of multiple memories.

Central questions of the conference with international experts and scientists

  • Which significance does the remembrance of the 20th century have for Europe today?
  • How different are commemorations in Europe?

  • Does a European remembrance exist within the diversity
    of perspectives and perceptions?

This conference will attempt to clarify the objectives, significance and perceptions of concepts of commemoration in Europe at national and transnational level and within civil society. It will examine the issues of coexistence, communication and the controversial aspects of commemoration. Additionally, it will outline the opportunities, limitations and perspectives of a European cultural policy in the light of this year’s focus on the outbreak of the First World War. The conference will bring together scholars, creative artists, education experts, and professionals from a broad range of fields, from journalism to museum management. The two-day event will play a crucial role in broadening the view of how the First World War in particular affects the present day and ultimately will give young academics and policymakers in Europe a framework to approach essential questions about history, identities and remembrance.

In short, the aim of this conference is to expand the horizons of European commemoration to reflect a stimulating range of perspectives and perceptions.


Photo: ifa / B. Hänssler

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