A troubled and segmented East-European history has given rise to a troubled and segmented museum history. Museums in Central and Eastern Europe have found themselves, time and again, faced with difficult and uncomfortable choices. Immediately after the Second World War, museums had to update their exhibitions in order to narrate radically different stories. One of the major changes also included exhibiting the socialist present, such as the accomplishments of the regime, and the recent past: the violent, revolutionary coming to power of communist parties all over Eastern Europe became part of the permanent exhibition of local and national museums. Museums also had to literally hide entire collections that were suddenly found inappropriate. After the fall of communism, these collections were brought back to museum halls (although much of their history, documentation and context had been lost) and it was time for the communist collections to become bothersome and thus be hidden or even destroyed.
The workshop seeks to explore the specificities of reaction to political and social change in the context of museums and heritage sites. Museums could be considered in terms of their historiographic and political foundations, as the outcome of mobilizations of a wide variety of actors who have contributed to their creation or their dismantling (museum professionals, architects, academics, public historians, victims’ associations and other cultural brokers). In some contexts, the heritage process has contributed to a discursive criminalisation of previous regimes – for instance the transformation of detention centres in museums or memory sites. In others, it has facilitated implicit forms of rehabilitation, under the guise of commercially exploiting the legacy – architectural, artistic, political – of the former regime. Finally, a significant number of museums and memory sites were faced with the challenge and task of reinvesting their collections with a new meaning and a new narrative, framed in new historiographies and nation-building projects.
While the conference will be bilingual, in English and French, no simultaneous translation will be provided.
Funds are available to cover the expenses (travel or accommodation) for a limited number of participants. Please indicate in your paper proposal whether you will be seeking this funding.
Gruia Badescu, University of Oxford
Simina Badica;, National Museum of the Romanian Peasant
Nelly Bekus, University of Exeter
Damiana Otoiu, University of Bucharest
The workshop is organized by the Regional Center for Advanced Francophone Research in Social Sciences (CEREFREA Villa Noël), University of Bucharest
and supported by the following institutions and projects:
- Museums and Controversial Collections. Politics and Policies of Heritage-Making in Post-Colonial and Post-socialist Contexts project of the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research and Innovation, CNCS – UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-2368, New Europe College, Bucharest.
- AHRC (Care for the Future) - LABEX Pasts in the Present joint funded project The Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective, University of Exeter and Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique, Paris.
- Political Science Department, University of Bucharest.
For more information click "Further official information" below.