Forum I: "History is constantly rewritten, and this is wonderful!"

The way we remember and how history is written has a direct influence on our society and politics. In the forum History and memory culture and its impact on society and politics the participants discussed, on the basis of current events in North Africa, how history narrates and, at the same time, is also interpreted differently by social groups.

The Forum was opened with two inputs by Sonja Lebos from Croatia (Zadar University) and Driss Maghraouri, Professor of History and International Relatuins at the University of Ifrane (Morocco). Driss Maghraouri focused in his statement particularly on the aspect that history is “made”. Here we are supposed to ask ourselves who is represented, who is not, and why? Therefore, according to Mr Maghrpaouri, it is not only important to know what we remember, but also, what is forgotten. The latter is often of more importance, because societies frequently adopt only certain aspects of the past to construct an identity (“identity politics”) while other important facets are deliberately dismissed.

In her contribution Sonja Lebos briefly introduced the web-based project „Theatre of Memories“ and proposed the question of how memories get interconnected over generations. Beside the “official memories”, as Mrs. Lebos stated, there always are also private ones which often differ significantly. In this repsect, the main concern, particularly of governmental institutions in non-democratic countries, is to gain the prerogative of the way in which we remember.

In the following vibrant discussion further aspects of our contemporary culture of remembrance were deepened. An important aspect was, for instance, the archiving of historical material. One of the participants raised the example of Egypt, where large parts of the national archive were destroyed. Subsequently it was discussed if social media and the internet make the complete deletion of remembrance impossible in the future, due to the fact that private citizens store their videos, articles or comments there. All forum participants agreed that a big threat arises when manipulated history is used in schools. It is a sign of dictatorships who try to cast a positive light on their nation's history. However, in the end, the forum came to the conclusion that “history is constantly rewritten, and this is wonderful!”

Citizenship Education
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