Sponsoring a European historical culture. Representations of the past promoted by the Council of Europe and European Union, 1954-today

Begin - Einde 
2018 - 2022 (lopend)
Vakgroep Geschiedenis
sociology of knowledge
historical culture
European Union
theory of history
cultural policy
politics of memory



This project traces how the Council of Europe (COE) and European Union (EU) developed a broad ‘European historical culture’. Since 1954, the Council of Europe has invested in representing European history in schoolbooks, exhibitions, heritage projects, etc. The European Communities (later: EU) increasingly set up similar initiatives from the mid-1980s on. This historical project asks which pasts the COE and EU represented when, with what goals, by which authors, and in which forms they did so?

The project specifically probes the epistemic characteristics of the COE’s and EU’s larger framework programmes and sponsorship mechanisms. It asks for example which ideas on objectivity, validity and falsifiability were prominent in sponsored past-representations, and how certain methodologies, carriers of historical knowledge, and expert groups may have been privileged above others during selection processes. The analysis thus transcends classic historiographical approaches as it takes into account the social dynamics and epistemic assumptions that are at play when creating specific ‘European’ representations of the past. With this aim, the project can contribute to the fields of historiography, the theory of history, and the sociology of (historical) knowledge. The source corpus consists of legal sources such as European treaties and laws, of policy documents, and of representations of a European past themselves.