Regimes of Memory, Patterns of Consolidation. Comparative Issues.
From Ireland, Belgium, and the Baltics through Ukraine, Poland, and Hungary to Spain, Italy, and Greece, most European political cultures are dominated by various grievances, fears, and pursuits of amends as consequences of unprocessed historical traumas. Competing regimes of memory are manifested in different interpretations of symbolic dates, places, and traditions. In Hungary, these include the conflicting narratives of the regime change, the varying interpretations of what happened in 1956, the competing memories of 1944 and 1945, the Shoa, the liberation, and the occupation. The varying experiences, fears, and offences of the different experiences of communities of 1989-90, 1956, 1945 and 1944 include the various interpretations of the dissolutions of the Habsburg Monarchy and the historical Hungary connected with the revolutions of 1918-19 and the counter-revolution of 1919. The clashing memories include the differences between the communities’ interpretations of the Ausgleich and 1848–1849 in favour of different traditions. Driven by the incessant compulsion to reinterpret, all these bear the divisive experiences and repetitive compulsions of historical traumas piled upon one another, undigested, suppressed, fossilized, yet as painful as ever and calling for amends. There are two main types of the current Grand Narratives: progress vs. fatherland and the adoption of Europeanness vs. national egoism. Leftists see themselves as modernizers as opposed to reactionaries, their enemies. Consequently, they proclaim to be committed to controlled modernization with their exclusiveness resting on the lack of alternative solutions and see their policy as the only salutary option. Their public discourse applies the language that calls for the adoption of the European model. By contrast, the antithesis of nation vs. traitors sums up the images of the self and the enemy evoked by the political right. Rightist public discourse, the language of national self-centeredness, is based on the decisive role of the will to carry out the „unavoidable” change of unjust relations and claims a nation-based state redistribution, new regime change, and moral revival. Its interpretation of history, traceable to ethnicity-based political language and interpretations, holds that foreign rule (various occupiers) not only shifted the country’s point of gravity abroad but replaced its ruling stratum, intellectual elite, and middle class. This led to an internal counter-selection: to the fetishization of power relations, the practice of waiting out, and self-destruction.
The objectives of the project are to identify, analyze, and contextualize the current regimes of memory in Europe, their competing victimologies, different political languages, ceremonies, rituals, symbolic times and spaces, images of the self and the inner alterity, their audiences, followers, and their different damnosae hereditates, political hysteria, as well as their powder-keg, unprocessed traumatic historical experiences. Putting them in a comparative and interdisciplinary European context can help overwrite and surpass them as far as trauma management, mediation, and building a democratic political community are concerned.
Its interpretative framework and methodology are mainly connected to the politics of identity and the politics of memory. The innovation of the project lies in the concepts of trauma and the regime of memory. Coming from psychology, the concept of trauma has been successfully applied in social psychology and the sociology of law. In historical analysis, therefore, a traumatic event or process engenders a discourse of grievance (transmitted through the media, literature, popular culture, and so on). Representatives of such discourse see themselves as victims. Their discourse permeates organizations, influences political life, and elicits institutional responses. Should a trauma not develop into a full-fledged discourse, it may still enter the realm of collective memory patterns or even the national Grand Narratives, be passed on to future generations, and be opened up to reinterpretation. The conditions under which a past event or process is reinterpreted as a traumatic inheritance can also be studied empirically, as can the social awareness obtained by it. The political languages and narratives of such experiences have been held together by elite-generated identity models as well as by images of preceding conflict, interpretations of the recent past, the self and the inner alterity, and the blueprints of memory. They have been the building blocks for turning divided societies and fractured political cultures into one democratic, pluralist political community. The historical traumas of the communities may lead to a fluid or „vacuum” situation, a non-democratic „consolidation”, a fall back to personal power, or even political hysteria if the assessment of the situation is wrong and bad aims are chosen.
The different interpretations and reinterpretations as well as selections and taboos of historical tradition tend to divide themselves into establishment and alternative types. The ways regimes seek to homogenize the fractured and often contradictory elements of their political cultures draw separate and sometimes opposite blueprints informed by disastrous historical experiences. Their frozen pasts appear embodied in real and symbolic spaces, the very structures and centres of cities, monuments, and sacred places. Alternative pasts end up being rekindled in collective rituals and processions influencing and often poisoning personal consciousness, individual and collective life strategies, and also inter- and cross-generational contacts and transfers. Regimes of memory are institutionalized ways of setting and managing the supply and demand of remembrance in historical contexts. The concept points beyond the more usual „politics of memory” insofar as it implies governance of the issues relating to the past in modern societies; on the one hand, discourse on the past is produced by the state, its institutions, and various other organizations (clubs, associations, and so on), leaders of opposition parties, opinion makers, and other informal networks of communication; on the other hand, memory patterns also produce social identities demanding public recognition. A regime of memory is the way both ends are met, both in the political and cultural sense. A regime of memory usually makes room for different, sometimes incoherent, even contradictory discourses on the past. Policies on their side may oscillate from celebrating traumatic events as victories of one part of the community over the other to sending certain historical processes into oblivion. A regime of memory deals with how the past is managed in the present. Understanding, identifying, contextualizing, and putting them into comparative context is an inevitable precondition for transcending the competing regimes of memory.
Academia Europaea was founded in 1988 as an international, non-governmental and not-for-profit association of individual scientists and scholars. The Academy is pan-European, with elected members drawn from the entire European continent. Our elite membership is currently approaching 3,000 individually invited scholars hailing from the fields of natural sciences, humanities, and letters. Members come from 35 European countries and eight non-European countries and are grouped into 20 Academic Sections. Academia Europaea:
– organises workshops, conferences and study groups, publishes the European Review and other academic materials, provides expert advice on European Science policy matters either alone and/or through the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC),
– promotes and values a wide appreciation of European scholarship and research,
– makes recommendations to national governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship, and academic life in Europe,
– encourages interdisciplinary and international research in all areas of study,
– identifies topics of trans-European importance in science and scholarship, and proposes appropriate action to ensure that these issues are adequately researched and studied.
The Academia Europaea Wrocław Knowledge Hub, with the support of the Mayor and the City of Wrocław, was established in December 2011. The main aims of the Hub are to enable high-level academic activities (e.g. open conferences and visiting lectures) and strengthen European relationships between academic communities. A number of wide-scope high-quality international activities were planned for 2013. Those included cooperation with the Institute of Political Sciences: Summer School on Democracy. How old and new democracies cope with the economic crisis, thanks to the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond: Early Modern Print Culture in Central Europe Seminar, and the development of students in the shape of internships and visiting lectures.
The Regional Office on International Relations in Wroclaw (in Polish: Regionalny Ośrodek Debaty Międzynarodowej we Wrocławiu). The main goal of the Office is to promote the knowledge of international relations and Polish foreign policy. It was established by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the College of Eastern Europe in June 2013. Since then, the Office has organised open conferences, lectures, and workshops for university students and secondary school pupils.
Willy Brandt Centre (WBZ) for German and European Studies was founded in 2002 as an interfacultative and interdisciplinary institution. The WBZ belongs to a worldwide network of institutions supported by the DAAD.
The WBZ has the following three major tasks: academic research, education-oriented tasks, and services. Its first research projects dealt with problems of European integration and German-Polish relations in Europe. Another field of research that the institution focuses on is the city of Wroclaw and the region of Lower Silesia in the transformation process after 1989. The findings have been published in several publishing series. The WBZ has established a well-functioning network at home and abroad as well as helped to develop new fields of study. The interdisciplinary PhD seminar, for example, is a great success that has enjoyed universal approval.
In 2009, the WBZ underwent a reorganisation in order to further specialise its fields of research. Here, high-level academic research in the area of German and European Studies is the most important field of work. Furthermore, the WBZ sets for itself a goal that consists in supporting young academics and preparing them for executive jobs in economics, public administration, and politics.
The spirit of peace and cooperation, understanding and integration, characterising the views and history of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former German Chancellor Willy Brandt guides the institution’s work and philosophy.
The University of Wrocław is one of the oldest universities in Central and Eastern Europe. Its roots go back to 1702. Founded by Leopold I Habsburg, the university evolved from a modest school run by Jesuits into one of the biggest academic institutions in Poland. In the early 19th century, the university had five faculties: philosophy, catholic theology, evangelical theology, law, and medicine. Later it was expanded with numerous sections, laboratories, and a natural museum, which exists today. After the Second World War, a group of Polish professors, formerly from Lviv, started teaching and conducting research at the University of Wrocław. Initially, they created the faculties of law and administration, arts, natural sciences, agriculture, veterinary science, medicine, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. Some of these faculties were soon transformed into new universities.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the University of Wrocław produced 9 Nobel Prize winners, such as Theodor Mommsen, Philipp Lenard, Eduard Buchner, Paul Ehrlich, Fritz Haber, Friedrich Bergius, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Stern, and Max Born. Today the University of Wrocław is the largest university in the region providing education to over 40,000 students and around 1,300 doctoral students at 10 faculties. 9,000 students graduate from the University every year.
In spite of major breakthroughs, especially in Germany and through the Franco-German reconciliation, we find all over Europe that the experiences and humiliations of previous generations have remained mainly unspoken and unelaborated at both individual and community levels. Dangerous as they are, such narratives and undigested traumas necessarily call for well-advised, learned, and thoughtful acts of overwriting and reworking. However, for all the important contributions that the social and political sciences have already made in the field of trauma management – particularly in social anthropology, social psychology, sociology of law, studies in peace and security, past in space, regimes of memory, identity discourses, and nationalism studies – serious historical research has usually tended to focus only on single cases, or a few cities, regions, states, or countries in specific periods. A broadly based, well-founded, historical, multi- and interdisciplinary research project for the comparison of the various modes of trauma management in the different countries and regions of Europe can open up new perspectives and provide essential tools for working out individual and collective traumatic historical experiences. This project aims to broaden the historical and geographical scope and refine the methodological analysis of present and historical traumas in Europe. The main question it poses is how different communities have been able to process their collective traumatic historical experiences, and what can be learned from the outcomes and dynamics of these processes.
Session 1: Moderator of the session – Iván Zoltán Dénes
- Interpreting Regimes of Memory in Poland from East Central European Comparative Approach. Cases and Contexts. Maciej Janowski
- Dutch Courage? Changes in the Historical Self-Perception of the Netherlands. Pieter Emmer
- The Past in Belgium: Different Memories and Controversial History in a Divided Society? Chantal Kesteloot
- The Memory of Fascism in Post-War Italy. Alessandro Cavalli
- Interpreting Regimes of Memory in Spain: Cases and Consequences. Salvador Orti-Camallonga
- Polish Model of Transformation. Ryszard Herbut
- Reinterpreting the Regimes of Memory in the Context of the Different Political Languages in Hungary. Iván Zoltán Dénes
- Rivalling Regimes of Memory and Patterns of Consolidation in the Urban Space of Lemberg/Lwów/Lvov/Lviv. A Case Study. Tamás Sajó
- Coffee break
- The Post-1989 Revival of the National Characterology in Roumania, Hungary and Bulgaria. Balázs Trencsényi
- Reinterpreting the Regimes of Memories in Finland: Subjects, Events, Narratives. Árpád Welker
- Coffee break
- Round-table discussion on the Regimes of Memory by all the participants of the conference. Moderator: Iván Zoltán Dénes
- The floor is open for the audience. Questions and Answers
- Coffee break
- Suggestions and ideas. Pieter Emmer
- Conclusion. Iván Zoltán Dénes