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Inside this domain :

Since its creation, the European Institute of Cultural Routes has been engaged in reflection on the place and importance of memory in re-reading the history and heritage of Europe.

It is indeed a political step, because it is necessary to ensure the participation, through analysis and common work, of the cultural actors and routes to the integration of the concepts of forgetfulness and forgiveness, as well as of the division of memory between the East and the West of Europe.

a transversal issue

Insofar as memory constitutes a dimension, even a problem that has traversed for several years all the themes treated by the cultural routes programme, it should constitute one of the means for re-reading it and give place to a suitable analysis of the term and of its concepts. Based among others on the numerous enterprises of the Council of Europe, we think indeed that this framework is a tool directly related to the training of democracy and civic consciousness, which, moreover, can assist in a concrete and exemplary way in the prevention of new conflicts.

A setting into network of the existing actions that speak about memory - and make memory speak - must thus be carried out in order to make the beginning of this reflection grow rich. Indeed, many of the meetings organised or co-organised by the Institute in the past years have touched this question more or less closely by calling upon experts from complementary disciplines: the conference "Heritage and memory: projects to live together" (Sibiu, 1999), the conference in Santiago de Compostela on "The cultural values of European citizenship " in 2000... To engage reflection on memory seems to us today a priority also because, beside and often beyond historical and patrimonial dimensions, a great number of proposals that are made to us for new topics or new actions also include this dimension, without always proposing an analysis of it a priori.

A dynamic and contemporary approach to the place of memory is finally necessary for revitalising this concept, since it is too often perceived as attached to the past and deprived of prospective vision. However, memory, according to Pierre Laborie, is "less presence of the past than present of the past, [it is the] fluctuating use of this past according to the interrogations of the present". What partly explains the difficulty of a work on memory is the fact that it requires permanent rebuilding.

a plural history and memory

A re-establishing of continuities among stories often fragmented and thus incomplete must allow for a re-reading of the past that binds us together; why not engage in a joint work on a history of the Europe of the cultural routes, not only on the stories and trajectories studied exclusively from a national point of view. This plural re-reading must remind us that memory is not uni-dimensional, that it must also make room for mediation between concurrent memories. The memory of each European consists of a multiplicity of facets, of sometimes contradictory superimposition of membership feelings. The mixture of intercultural currents that cross our continent creates through their complexity the feeling of membership to a European community. It is necessary to recall to what extent the various episodes constitutive of national histories can be apprehended as a common heritage, including the "heritage of suffering".

The European Institute of Cultural Routes and its partners thus want to contribute to this awakening and to make it possible for any European citizen to adapt to events and live them as a shared memory. It appears that the lessons of the past have not been sufficiently clarified or sufficiently assimilated into the European consciousness. It is thus necessary to make an effort, in particular for the young people, so that all can realise the importance of this re-reading for a better understanding of contemporary society, as well for a projection into a common future. To this effect we agree with Raymond Weber in giving an affirmative answer to his question: "Should we not try to ... propose to European citizens, and in particular to young people, a reading of our history and our civilisations and cultures (...) which shows us, certainly, in all our cultural diversity, our will to have jointly not only a patrimony but also an aim and a project on the future?".

a heritage carried by memory

Following the recommendations of the experts whom we brought together, the work on the memory of Europe undertaken by the Institute will relate only to one restricted period of our memory, a period which is precisely carried by our memory. It will stress the past one hundred and fifty years of our history, since the signature of the great treaties that contributed to the cutting of Europe and the creation of nation states. It was during this period that certain of the major transformations of our society have taken place: the passage from the traditional rural society to the urban one, the passage from the society of craftsmen to the industrial one, then the latter's decline to post-industry. It is also the period that is indeed carried by our memory, that of the generations just preceding us: our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

The century that has just ended is one in which respect for human values, human rights and democracy were marked as never before. It is the century during which the worst atrocities were perpetrated. It is to this memory that we give priority, because it still speaks about itself. It deals with a period significant and rich in changes, which continues to be a strong reference in our lives and our contemporaneity, our spirits and our international relations.

As its preparation progresses, this subject reveals all its richness and at the same time all its complexity, which explains why the Institute has until now especially accumulated information, so as to have the most significant possible thesaurus. But it invites all these partners to take into account and to account for the importance of such a work on the memory of Europe.

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 Association "Europe de la mémoire"
  Website in French
 Inside this domain
 Library Memory
  All the media dealing with Europe of Memory !
  A selection of websites
 "Conflicts and reconciliations"
  Work of the CCE St Jean d'Angély pupils during the session dedicated to memory
 media library
 La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli
  Paul Ricoeur's book on the memory, the history, the olivion...
 Création des identités nationales
  Anne-Marie Thiesse's book on the creation of national identities
 L'invention du peuple
  Claude Karnoouh's book on the invention of people


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