Three days, eight lectures and panel discussions, 52 turbo-presentations, and two study visits – over 150 representatives of various cultural and academic institutions met in Brussels on 6-8 June for the 6th European Remembrance Symposium.
Marked by numerous armed conflicts, including two world wars, as well as repetitive aggression of states against their own citizens, last 100 years in Europe can rightly be called a 'century of violence'. Hoping to enhance the reflection on these difficult aspects of our past, this year's European Remembrance Symposium was devoted to various phenomena of violence and their consequences on the history of the 20th century. Both theoretical approaches and practical frameworks were discussed. One of the key issues being examined during the symposium was the relation between violence and power, with a special emphasis put on its cultural and political dimensions. Invited lecturers – including Prof. Andrzej Nowak, Prof. Jeffrey Olick, Prof. Arnold Suppan, and Prof. Michel Wieviorka – pointed to multifaceted nature of violence and how it was being used to exert control over individuals and societies. Differences in perspectives between Western and Central-Eastern Europe were also analyzed, showing how different experiences of violence can influence remembrance and reconciliation.
A vital part of the symposium was devoted to sharing and reflecting upon real-life cases of how violence is remembered and commemorated in different parts of Europe. The programme included two study visits: first to the newly-opened House of European History, second to the Nazi prison camp at Fort Breendonk. Moreover, in-depth discussions and workshops were held on different dimensions of remembering violence (education, documentation, exhibiting, seeking reconciliation) with examples coming from Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, and countries of former Yugoslavia, among others. During a turbo-presentations panel, the participants had also an opportunity to learn about both new and already established remembrance initiatives from all around Europe, having a glimpse at the current European landscape of projects related to memory and violence. The variety and multitude of discussed cases led attendees to wonder: should this proliferation be interpreted as a sign of growing interest in memory studies and increased compassion or maybe on the contrary – as a proof of ongoing, possibly unresolvable problems within European remembrance?
The Symposium is one of the principal projects of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, and is intended to serve as a platform for discussions by government representatives, academics, and professionals from both NGOs and public institutions active in the field of remembrance.
This year's edition was organised in cooperation with following partners:
- CEGESOMA – Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Society;
- The Herder Institute for Historical Research on East-Central Europe;
- The Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe;
- The Polish History Museum; Foundation European Centre Natolin;
- The Hungarian Committee of National Remembrance. The symposium was hosted at the Royal Flemish Academy for Science and the Arts in Brussels.
The symposium was hosted at the Royal Flemish Academy for Science and the Arts in Brussels.