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Remembering the past, making sense of the present, and looking towards the future: The House of European History as the constructor of 'Europe's narrative' – Agatha Geertrui OOSTENBRUG

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UNIVERZITA PALACKÉHO V OLOMOUCI

Filozofická fakulta

Magisterský studijní program / obor:
Humanities / Euroculture

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Agatha Geertrui OOSTENBRUG

Diplomová práce

Remembering the past, making sense of the present, and looking towards the future: The House of European History as the constructor of 'Europe's narrative'

Remembering the past, making sense of the present, and looking towards the future: The House of European History as the story-teller of "Europe's narrative"

Abstract: The House of European History (HEH) is a museum in Brussels that addresses the notion of a common European history and memory, and aims to provide its visitors with a "reservoir of European memory" in order for the visitors to reflect and come up with what constitutes a common European history for them. It opened in May 2017, and was an initial idea of the former president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering. Before and after its opening, the museum was met with widespread criticism, mainly for its 55 million euro price-tag, but also for its supposed political agenda. However, the museum enjoys a high level of academic independence, and therefore its meaning goes deeper than that of a mere political tool. The HEH makes an interesting subject of research, as it opened very recently, and therefore it is still fairly unexplored. This thesis researches the narrative that the HEH constructs and presents in its permanent exhibition, by looking at two focus points: (i) the differing histories of Central and Eastern Europe opposed to Western Europe in a post-WWII setting; and (ii) the history of European integration in the twentieth century. The research draws on fieldwork done in January and April 2018, as well as qualitative analysis of secondary literature, with influences from museum studies and public history. The research is placed in a theoretical framework of history and memory studies, and it puts these notions in a European context. As became clear from the research, the HEH includes Central and Eastern European histories as well as their Western counterpart, mostly juxtaposing, comparing and contrasting them as in not to treat them in their respective national histories but in a pan-European setting. Regarding European integration, the museum chose an approach in the form of 'milestones', events that were significant for the process of European integration, displayed in glass columns throughout the floors of the exhibition, respective of their historical context. The thesis concludes with the statement that the narrative the museum constructs means something in itself: the museum has provided a concrete space with tangible objects to represent a common European history and memory, and consequently an abstract space is created as well, in which this notion can be substantiated or refuted.

Abstract: The House of European History (HEH) is a museum in Brussels that addresses the notion of a common European history and memory, and aims to provide its visitors with a "reservoir of European memory" in order for the visitors to reflect and come up with what constitutes a common European history for them. It opened in May 2017, and was an initial idea of the former president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering. Before and after its opening, the museum was met with widespread criticism, mainly for its 55 million euro price-tag, but also for its supposed political agenda. However, the museum enjoys a high level of academic independence, and therefore its meaning goes deeper than that of a mere political tool. The HEH makes an interesting subject of research, as it opened very recently, and therefore it is still fairly unexplored. This thesis researches the narrative that the HEH constructs and presents in its permanent exhibition, by looking at two focus points: (i) the differing histories of Central and Eastern Europe opposed to Western Europe in a post-WWII setting; and (ii) the history of European integration in the twentieth century. The research draws on fieldwork done in January and April 2018, as well as qualitative analysis of secondary literature, with influences from museum studies and public history. The research is placed in a theoretical framework of history and memory studies, and it puts these notions in a European context. As became clear from the research, the HEH includes Central and Eastern European histories as well as their Western counterpart, mostly juxtaposing, comparing and contrasting them as in not to treat them in their respective national histories but in a pan-European setting. Regarding European integration, the museum chose an approach in the form of 'milestones', events that were significant for the process of European integration, displayed in glass columns throughout the floors of the exhibition, respective of their historical context. The thesis concludes with the statement that the narrative the museum constructs means something in itself: the museum has provided a concrete space with tangible objects to represent a common European history and memory, and consequently an abstract space is created as well, in which this notion can be substantiated or refuted.

Keywords: House of European History, memory, European narrative, European history, Public History

Jazyk práce: angličtina

  • Datum vytvoření / odevzdání či podání práce: 1. 8. 2018

Obhajoba závěrečné práce

  • Vedoucí: doc. Mgr. Radmila Švaříčková Slabáková, Ph.D.

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Instituce archivující a zpřístupňující práci: UNIVERZITA PALACKÉHO V OLOMOUCI, Filozofická fakulta

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OOSTENBRUG, Agatha Geertrui. Remembering the past, making sense of the present, and looking towards the future: The House of European History as the constructor of 'Europe's narrative'. Olomouc, 2018. diplomová práce (Mgr.). UNIVERZITA PALACKÉHO V OLOMOUCI. Filozofická fakulta

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