Welcome to the Imre Kertész Kolleg’s Cultures of History Forum! We are an online journal that is concerned with how the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe address and negotiate the meaning of the past in public. We aim to facilitate conversation between academia and a wider public on issues of history and memory of the 20th century in Europe and to foster dialogue and critical understanding. Contributions to the Forum are structured along three key areas: museums and exhibitions; public debates and controversies; and official acts and government programs. We encourage experts from and of the region to send us critical reviews of local exhibitions and memorial sites or contextualized reflections on current debates concerning contentious historical issues. Finally, we welcome contributions that look into specific legislation, judicial acts or government programs that aim to strengthen specific historical interpretations and/or to weaken others. If you want to be an author or you know of an interesting ongoing exhibition, public debate or political development that you would like to see discussed here, please contact the editors!
History museums and exhibitions are spaces where meaning is produced collectively; they are thus central to any culture of history. In history exhibitions our congealed imaginations of the past are brought into view or staged.
How historical 'facts' are understood is a matter of negotiation and is sometimes subject to intense debate amongst not just professional historians but also the public at large. In this section, we present public debates and controversies that emerge at different points in time and in a variety of local, national and trans-national contexts. The debates usually arise where dominant narratives are being contested or contrasting historical interpretations clash in the public sphere - during commemorative events, in academic publications or due to policy shifts.
The ways in which history and the past are used and abused in the present are manifold. History is not only debated publicly or displayed and showcased in museums and temporary exhibitions, but historical narratives and experiences are also an integral part of political decision-making processes and of policy.
Apart from documenting and analyzing cultures of history in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe from various angles, the Cultures of History Forum also regularly initiates collaborative, special feature projects that zoom in on specific events or discussions concerning the entire region (and sometimes beyond). By asking experts from the region to write about one and the same issue and how it is being debated in their respective local or national contexts, we intend to open up additional comparative insights into discourses and developments in this part of Europe. Though history and its representations is not necessarily the primary subject of these ‘focus projects’, it nevertheless often informs the ways in which current affairs are being understood and thus form an important backdrop to understanding local discourses.