WiSe 12/13: Kollektive Identität und die Konstruktion von Geschichte im europäischen Vergleich
Jürgen Gerhards; David Glowsky
Collective European identity is the foundation for further integration of the European Union. Citizens of the European national states will only accept financial redistribution between countries if ... read more
Collective European identity is the foundation for further integration of the European Union. Citizens of the European national states will only accept financial redistribution between countries if they share a common identity with other Europeans. One possible basis for a collective identity, as has been shown by historians and sociologists alike, is a shared memory of the past. Nation states have invested large amounts of energy to reinterpret their past. In this process they shaped a national collective memory out of formerly heterogeneous, conflicting memories of the people. National collective memories not only tell a unifying story of "us" (the nation) but sometimes also of "them" (other nations).
In this course we ask whether processes of globalization and European Integration have changed the way collective idenity is constructed. Are nationally bounded collective memories opening up for alternative interpretations of the past? In which direction do nation states shape collective memory today - do they try to conserve the national viewpoint or do they encourage citizens to open up for alternative views? In how far does the European Union play a role in this assumed process?
Students are expected to conduct their own original research project in this course. Possible topics include:
1. Remembrance and evaluation of selected events among the population.
o As transnationalization and European integration intensify, we can assume that national narratives open up and that citizens increasingly remember events that have taken place outside their country. To which extent have citizens incorporated events that have taken place in other countries and how do they evaluate them - has the "us" and "them" division started to merge into a new "we Europeans" category? Another focus could lie on inherently European events, such as the introduction of the Euro or the enlargement of the EU, and how they are perceived in various countries.
o A country's collective memory is divided on various levels, and one division assumedly runs between social classes. We suggest the analysis of two aspects. a) To which extent does the remembrance of events differ between classes? For example it would be possible to analyze differences in the remembrance of World War II between high and low classes. b) It can also be assumed that social classes differ in their focus on various fields of events. Can we observe a stratification of memory, analogous to the differences in taste as shown by Pierre Bourdieu? If this is the case, we might find that elites focus on international politics and economic events, whereas low classes lay a higher importance on sports and main stream culture.
2. Which goals can we identify in the memory policies of nation states today? Do they continue their old, closed national narratives or do they promote an open understanding of European history, which includes other interpretations? Is there a common tendency across Europe or are European states going different paths?
3. The European Union plays an active role in the shaping of a collective European memory. Research projects could reconstruct selected aspects of this policy. Towards which ideal endpoint is the EU policy projected? To which extent can we observe parallels between the strategies of nation states and the EU, and where does the EU take unique steps?
Possible methods include: interviews with citizens or experts in key positions; content analysis of newspaper articles, speeches, museum expositions, memorials, documents of the European Union.
Participants of this course will work on one of the offered topics or will develop their own research question. They will learn to relate the research question to the existing literature in the field and to a theory which fits the research question. In a next step they will learn how to work on the question empirically with the help of qualitative methods. In the concluding sessions students will be given the opportunity to present and discuss their initial findings.
Organization of the course
1) Maximum number of participants: In order to have a productive work atmosphere
and to ensure intensive support and supervision of projects, the number
of participants is restricted to 12 students (Campus Management registration
on a first-come, first-served basis).
2) Course languages are German and English, as the literature which will be discussed in the course is written in both languages. Papers may be written in either language.
3) Requirements: (a) regular course attendance (max. 1 missed session); (b) studying the texts for each session; (c) project presentation.
4) Exam: research report of approximately 10,000 words. Dead line: March 31, 2012)