UNREST addresses Europe’s pressing memory problem. The EU derives a great deal of legitimacy from its foundational myth of transnational reconciliation. It has consistently championed a consensual approach to traumatic memory reaching from the abyss of the World Wars and the Holocaust to post war peace and prosperity. But the storyline is losing its lustre. All across Europe, populist and nationalist movements are successfully challenging the official EU narrative. They use the heritage of war and violence to push conventional, confrontational notions of collective belonging – with very dangerous consequences. Social cohesion is fraying and ethnic tensions are on the rise. Plus, since most of this happens well within the rules of the democratic process, the EU is watching helplessly, rendered impotent by a sympathetic but unengaging cultural memory.
UNREST proposes to fill the perilous vacuum between top-down cosmopolitan EU memory and bottom-up, antagonistic right-wing memory. UNREST pursues a third memory way, which acknowledges and engages with widespread memory discontent without losing sight of fundamental EU ideals. We call this third way agonistic memory. It designates a new mode of remembrance which embraces political conflict as an opportunity for emotional and ethical growth. For this purpose, UNREST combines ground-breaking theoretical reasoning with the empirical study of existing memory cultures and the implementation and rigorous testing of innovative memory practices.
Impacts & Results
The project includes three different kinds of WPs: two over-arching and project facilitating WPs, two WPs dedicated to the case studies, and two impact-oriented WPs. The over-arching WPs, WP1 (Implementation and Management) and WP2 (Theory and Methodology), assure coherence and continuity in terms of terminology, approach, methodology and implementation. Annual meetings with the advisory board, organised by WP5 (Communication and Training Impact), help monitor the progress of the project. WP1 and 2 start working from day one and continue all along the three years of work of the project. An internal two-day seminar on theory and methodology will be held in Month 2 in order to establish research questions and secure a uniform approach in the analysis in WPs 3 and 4. During the first two years of the project the findings from WP3 (Mass Grave Exhumations) and 4 (War Museums) will feed into the thick descriptions of the dominant modes of remembering in different settings, and contribute to the design of the cultural products to be created in WP6 (Creation of Cultural Events). At the end of the project one or two agenda setting articles on the theory of remembrance modes will be presented at an international conference in Rome Month 36 and published in first range peer-reviewed academic journals