Archive of European Projects

European Memories: Collecting, Constructing, Connecting
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"European Memories - Collecting, Constructing, Connecting" To learn from history means to deal with history. Hundred years have passed since World War I, and to examine the impact the war had on Europe even until today and what we can learn from this period in European history is the major purpose of our project. Students from five different countries, Poland, France, England, Germany, and Ireland, study contemporary and today’s representations of the war and then create a 'European archive' to be not only reminiscent of the tragedies, the political, social and economic consequences but also to become aware of the influence of that war on the development of Europe until today from different cultural perspectives. Students from the different European countries work together in internationally mixed groups and 'collect' ideas and bits of information on specific topics about WWI to 'construct' an archive. This archive consists of wooden boxes into which the students put their project's results, e.g. a newspaper, a sculpture, a symbolic artefact, a screen to show a self-made documentary, loud speakers for a radio programme etc. Throughout the process of gathering information, of analysing pieces of memory, of communicating about their findings, and of planning how to design their historical boxes, our students are 'connected' to each other sustainably, and they actively and visibly ‘connect’ different national perspectives on a European event. In cooperation with the 'Landschaftsverband Westfalen Lippe' (LWL), which offers seminars on museum pedagogy for the participating students and teachers, and the 'Vestisches Museum Recklinghausen', our students are given the chance to plan and design their own exhibition rooms and to present their archive to an interested wider audience. The wooden boxes as the chosen medial form allow the students to create an archive that grows continuously, as during the project's meetings' (one in Germany and one in France during the two-years phase) they work on further aspects of WWI, fill new boxes and add their new boxes to the existing archive. By assembling the boxes, the students create a 'European house' or a 'European pillar' carrying a 'European roof' - a product of high symbolic value. The students get the chance to increase their awareness of a central cultural European heritage by studying authentic source material from the time of WWI (newspaper articles, letters, photos, film shots...), by comparing ideas of public memory (monuments and anniversary exhibitions) in different languages, and by analysing examples of naming events and phenomena during WWI in Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, or England. Working on different topics, such as "Our town's role during the First World War", "Letters from the opposing fronts", "Comparing the role of propaganda language" the students apply different theoretical approaches to memory studies (e.g. Halbwachs, Assmann, Nora, Hobsbawm) to the creation of the pupils´ own memory boxes. To keep our European archive 'alive' and to achieve a sustainable output for the participating schools by our project, the coordinating school will install a whole-year presentation of memory boxes in its school building while the contents of the students' boxes will be accessible digitally on the participating schools' homepages. Building a European archive has a positive impact on various levels as different institutions are cooperating to realise this idea of European Memories, which are the five participating schools, the local foreign institute 'Die Brücke', the 'Vestische Museum' and the 'Landschaftsverband Westfalen Lippe'.
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