European Digital memories in a transnational era. The references from the European Observatory on Memories

Jordi Guixé Coromines

European Observatory on Memories, University of Barcelona

e-mail: jordiguixe@ub.edu

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3060-764X

 

ABSTRACT

This essay takes up the question of transmission in the context of politics and projects of memory from the last decade. I have dubbed this period “the decade of memory, of remembrance”. The first decade of the 21st century saw an exponential growth in digital platforms, focused on catastrophes and conflicts in the previous century as well as more recent events. Public, academic, and institutional initiatives were accompanied by a public and private support to recover the memory of the past in Spain and Europe. This recovery effort placed intangible heritage, and memory at the centre of contemporary historical efforts. Our work and references are analysed from the projects of the European Observatory on Memories (EUROM) criteria, objectives but also technical tools.

 

RESUMEN

Memorias Europeas digitales en la era transnacional. Algunas referencias desde el Observatorio Europeo de Memorias.- Este artículo aborda la cuestión de la transmisión de la memoria en el contexto de políticas y proyectos de memoria de la última década, que podríamos denominar “de la memoria y el recuerdo”. El primer decenio del siglo XXI ha visto un crecimiento exponencial de las plataformas digitales focalizadas en catástrofes y conflictos ocurridos en el siglo XX, así como en acontecimientos recientes. Los académicos, las instituciones y también la sociedad han recibido cierto apoyo para la recuperación de dicha memoria del pasado reciente en España y Europa. Este esfuerzo, situado en la herencia intangible y el recuerdo, se encuentra en el centro de numerosos trabajos historiográficos. En las páginas que siguen se expone el proyecto del Observatorio Europeo de Memorias (EUROM), los criterios seguidos, sus objetivos y también las herramientas digitales y tecnológicas que han facilitado su consecución.

 

Submitted: 1 February 2017. Accepted: 11 May 2018

Citation / Cómo citar este artículo: Guixé Coromines, Jordi (2018) “European Digital memories in a transnational era. The references from the European Observatory on Memories.” Culture & History Digital Journal, 7 (2): e018. https://doi.org/10.3989/chdj.2018.018

KEYWORDS: Politics of memory; Digital memory; EUROM; Mapping; History; Transmission; Past narratives.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Políticas de memoria; Memoria Digital; EUROM; Mapeado; Transmisión de la historia; Narrativas del pasado.

Copyright: © 2018 CSIC. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).


 

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

RESUMEN

INTRODUCTION

DEBATES IN EUROPE

NEW CUSTOMS OF CULTURAL MEMORY

THE EUROPEAN OBSERVATORY ON MEMORIES

DIGITAL WORK OF THE OBSERVATORY

THE PATHS OF MEMORY:BARCELONA DURING THE CIVIL WAR AND FRANCO REGIME

TO BE CONTINUED

NOTES

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY

DIRECCIONES DE INTERNET

INTRODUCTIONTop

Digital memory or the use of digital technologies for the research, spreading, promotion and dignification of memory is a growing disciplinary practice. However, in our opinion, the so-called digital memory not only responds to a technological, modern or modernizing use within the scope of work of the human and social sciences but also and basically to a right; the right of socialization, reparation, transmission of memory aimed to exercise, resignify and democratize the knowledge of this past, particularly where public politics are not applied either by default or by omission.

The European Observatory on Memories (EUROM) considered the creation of a transnational working network on memory as a foundational challenge using as a tool for spreading, expansion and interaction with partners, a digital platform where the multiplicity of projects and actions could take place. Nevertheless, we will analyze the European and Spanish context in which the project is framed before focusing on the concrete actions.

DEBATES IN EUROPETop

Currently, the public narrative on memories in Europe and the European institutions (European Parliament and European Commission), has been driven by a political demand that has strongly emerged since the countries of the former Soviet Union joined European Union, almost fifteen years ago. This “demand” equates the Nazi crimes with the Stalin’s crimes has been high-pressure, particularly from 2007 has determined public politics and resolutions, and has also been widely contested in academic circles (Lavabre & Gensburger, 2012).Comparing multiple and infinite debates and processes, I am interested in the evolution of this tension and competition which I define as memory “uniqueness” as public policy, but also as an endeavour to dodge the responsibilities of many local, regional and national communities around Europe. The first immediate consequence has been to play down the importance of the Holocaust, arisen as a result of the silence on the role of some States and their local populations in the perpetration of crimes. The second consequence has been exclusion, that is, excluding the diversity and complexity of other European wars of the past. To a certain extent, the effort to integrate and learn to discuss the violence of the past in different conflicts, dictatorships, crimes and wars has been somehow overlooked, beyond the fair acknowledgement and analysis of the two most atrocious violent regimes. That is why it may seem simplistic but it is essential to speak of such “uniqueness” as a central element when we speak of the debates or conflicts of memory in the continent. This also entails an equation of the different categories of victims according to the interest of the “official” politics of memory within the different nations and their re-examination of the past. In short, an official historical account of European and national memories has been established -and it is still on-going- in which the complexity and multiplicity of stories, historical processes and complex debates are eliminated.

The unique association of historical narratives regarding the use of the victim is dangerous. We know that any account of the experience is open to interpretations, but we must be vigilant with these equations on all levels (Sarlo, 2005): between victims and tormentors, between resistance fighters and collaborators, anti-fascists and fascists, between global and national memories, and -currently the most common equation in Europe- between Nazism and Stalinism. This equation restricts the need to work on a transnational scale with other different transformative memories that help to improve our open society or our democracy. The space of memory must be considered as a social articulation between different scales: the local, national, regional, and international scale. This geographical and territorial scale interacts in different dimensions: material, social, political, cultural, and economic. In this sense, the work of remembering in the twenty-first century is presented as the challenge of working on the complementarity between scales and dimensions. Without the interaction of multiple realities and factors (scales and dimensions) it is possible to fall into the above-mentioned memorial, centrifugal and exclusive competition, an exclusion driven by political interests and lobbies. Bringing the uniqueness of memories into its exclusive realm obviously involves fatal risks regarding the memory’s capacity to transform.

Fortunately, these debates are emerging in different academic, political and social spheres. This uniqueness of memory can be used as an excuse to engender a common European identity, and museums and over-simplistic accounts of the past are construed. This equation and uniqueness of memories is in vogue; however, explicit criticisms are being increasingly made of the European Union decrees, national decrees and “memory laws”, and actions in the public space going in this direction that intend to impose memory “from above”.

The latest campaign was launched through some of the sectors that promote the mentioned equation. Apart from having their European Day of Remembrance, on 23 August (the date on which the Molotov-Ribentropp Pact was signed between the USSR and Nazi Germany), they resort to symbols identifying “23 August” as an icon and a trademark of European pride, and thus they manufacture pins, badges, games and all sorts of promotional material about a memory that, while it was of course painful, gives one the feeling that it is treated according to political criteria and in a rather frivolous manner. These political groups, through their elected leaders, are those that proposed and voted for the mentioned European resolution of 23 August. And obviously, the neoliberal West defended and supported them in every way.

Sometimes it is striking how strongly they appeal to the memory of the terror of the occupations to justify the gaps or the lack of critical analysis of the role their citizens played during that period. Which Estonians or Latvians fired against Jews, resistance fighters and prisoners in general in the Baltic camps and forests? How many of them were there? Who were they? These are uncomfortable questions that are not answered through these countries remembrance discourses when visiting places of memory and extermination, where the role of the “locals” is camouflaged and, in some cases, positively justified. Moreover, the equality discourse - see the sculpture of the locomotive in the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn -justifies the repressive actions and Nazi collaboration of the locals since they were fervently nationalist and anti-communists. Since 2017, this sculpture has been waiting for a destination that better defines a complex reality very far removed from a black and white interpretation. In Latvia it is also stated: “We Latvians killed and shot civilians, most of them Jews, throwing them into mass graves but you don’t know that the Jews were communists and many of them went to work for the KGB later,” said a Latvian citizen when asked about the large memorial in the Bikernieki Forest, where tens of thousands of people were exterminated by Nazi, and Latvian bullets (author’s interview, March 2014).The same applies to other countries such as Ukraine, Romania, Poland, etc. Where is the local responsibility for such violence?

After a discovery voyage around the discussions on memory both on the North and the East, passing through the Mittel Europa, we should definitely read again the book of Cristopher Browning Ordinary men (2002) in order to enter the debate about the role played by the local people and citizens with regard to the violence and extermination in these countries. Likewise, the most recent conflict and debate regarding censorship in Poland towards the historian Jan Gross presents an imposition of history from above. In his book, Neighbours (2001; Vecinos, 2002), Gross studies the responsibility of the “locals” in the massacre of the polish population living in Jedwabne, a fact that has cost him a political censorship in that country.

However, it is in the public sphere compared to the books where we can find a very obvious example. The new monument to the Nazi occupation in Hungary erected in the city of Budapest is worth a visit. Hungary and its citizens are represented by the Archangel Gabriel as victims of the “Nazi eagle” in this national monument and official memorial. An example of this is the House of Terror in Budapest containing evidence of a noticeable ideological discourse - together with a museum display that leaves indifferent- where the collaborationist and violent role of the “locals” during the dictatorship of Miklos Horthy and during the period of mass deportations and exterminations is ignored. Fortunately, in the face of the political lie, the transgressive memory appears in the central Freedom Square of Budapest in the form of Living Memorial, a social reaction seeking justice and truth as opposed to the manipulation of memory. A spontaneous action in the public space that undermines the official monument and turns it into a recently inaugurated ruin (Sokol, Marton, 2014; BBC Political 2014).

However, the most interesting part of this process is the interaction with citizens, visitors, and those who put into practice the memory. It is necessary and essential to analyse the stone of the commemorative monument, which, on the one hand, is also understood by the victim’s association as a need for memory to remain fixed in the form of a permanent tool somewhere; and, on the other hand, by the politician, the power or the State with the aim to represent their work in the shape of ephemeral monolith to expose public statements. Nevertheless, this trend represents a certain “stony or petrified” memory that is being contrasted with what we call cultural memory, which obviously includes new digital technologies. Professionals such as the director of the great Auschwitz Memorial Museum remind us that we must use new ways of transmission and representation of memory through art and the new technologies that are daily embedded in our public and private lives. Thus Cywinski states that “the daily reality guarantees the transmission of any authentic or original place, allowing to overcome the usual commemorative frenzy, increasingly widespread” (2018).

NEW CUSTOMS OF CULTURAL MEMORYTop

The cultural memory upheld by Andreas Huyssen is treated as if it were in a moment of transition, full of changes and mutations. And the prospect of transnational study appears once more necessary. The basis of knowledge is history and comparative history can explain some, but not all, keys to the mutation of memory. It is in the field of remembrance, in practical uses and experiences, where it is possible to establish links and make progress in the analyses. However, the understanding and representation of a traumatic past requires the cooperation of historians and memoir writers (Carol Gluck established a curious neologism for this: “memorians”, which in a way defines the work of many historians, but of course not limited to them).The analysis of public customs can enlighten us about the processes of memory. These processes are experiencing a boom, a certain “hypertrophy” of memories that responds to multiple factors but also denotes a lack of confidence in the imagined future, particularly in Western societies.

For example, there is no historical link whatsoever - or only a very symbolic one - between the commemoration of the 9/11 attacks in New York with its monumental remembrance site and museum, and the Memorial in Berlin to the Jews exterminated in Europe. Both place their memories at different levels of social message. In Berlin we find a civic memorial at a national and collective level dedicated to the victims and their families in a distant way, both historically and geographically, as it intends to offer a global European memory of the Holocaust. In contrast, the 9/11 memorial focuses the primarily on family and individual memory, drawing a very faint, almost non-existent line between the intimate and the political. The Berlin Memorial aims to make the world aware of the history of Germany - and Europe - with a national commitment to public memory. The New York memorial, on the other hand, tries to bring together current politics and private memories that are involved in an open conflict and somehow ignoring the historical processes (Huyssen, 2002).

We fully endorse Huyssen’s analysis, which also anticipates the facts, since his comparative reflection is prior to the opening of the 11S memorial at the so-called Zero Zone. James E. Young’s ideas lie beneath this perspective, which based on his long experience in the analysis of the memorialization of public space, enlighten us once again by highlighting the need to travel and compare before acting, stressing the debates that have arisen around designs and their meanings. These processes of creations of memory are often more important than the final outcome of the memorials themselves (Young, 2017); and as a result, the public debate and the controversy are the keys to the comparative studies.

These brief reflections support the analysis and the need to “observe” public politics of memory in Europe in a horizontal, comparative and transnational way and its application to local and national cases opens the door to the present and future treatment of memory. This confirms the conflictive and transgressive practices of the processes of memory and implies a warning of the customs à la carte and abuses of victims, violence and conflicts. Comparative memory is presented as a transforming agent that can - and must - comply with the functions of the debate and counterweight. By limiting ourselves to promote the national memories without any transnational practice troops of national - and nationalist - memorials with effects contrary to memorial connectivity can consequently result (Hirsch, 2014). By accepting the current challenge of acting with transnationality and mobility, a new “ethic of memorial transculturality” can be achieved that might help to promote processes of complementarity, solidarity and citizen participation or involvement. Precisely at this point, digital memory is activated with great possibilities of transmission and “connectivity”.

The mobility of memory also generates mobilization. One of the most mobilizing and transgressive forms of conduct in memory action is direct digital memory or through art. Above all the political impact of art that is capable of creating small forums of resistance: Resistances in the present using elements of the past. Resistance to violence, exclusion, injustice and even mediocre inactivity. One of the disciplines closest to all these reflections is art, with its transformative and inquiring capacity; art that works with memory; political art. In the hands of intelligent and freer creators, it acts through processes of creation, thinking and doing. Art and artists who have achieved this level of social action with their work open up new spaces of memory that imply transculturality, permanent mobility and the permanent use of digital tools in their work (Julian Bonder, Kristina Norman, Horst Hoheilsel, Cristina Lucas, Joachim Gerz, Francesc Torres, Francesc Abad and Fernando Sánchez Castillo are recent and close examples).How to work within a comparative multiplicity, a permanent mobility and mutation of memories in an area as complex as Europe? This could also be one of the foundational questions of the European Observatory of Memories.

THE EUROPEAN OBSERVATORY ON MEMORIESTop

The public programmes launched by the European Commission show, in their will and description, the evolution of many of the above-mentioned factors. Like all public politics, at the time they were passed, they had their detractors and advocates (Lavabre and Geinsburguer, 2012).

On the other hand, there is a positive development of these politics, and it is a readiness to understand the complexity of the past and the memory of conflicts in the present. In our opinion, the line taken at the beginning of the programmes for 2007–2013 has been adequately rectified and opened up to other axes and projects for the current period 2014–2020.In the last two years of the new “Europe for Citizens” programme, the “memory axis” has gone from fourth to first place in the Europe for Citizens programme and the its budget has been increased. In some ways it is a commitment to the values of the democratic European memory to mitigate the crisis of values Europe is suffering generically. We think it is right to incorporate these programmes into the framework of active and civic politics. Without social involvement, there can be no participative memory, which is the one that really emanates from the citizenry and is activated in it. Some of the points of the programme meet objectives hitherto unseen in the context of public politics of memory at a European level (EACEA:http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/).

Examples of this “participative memory” have also been activated at a local level, for examples and for the first time in some projects in Barcelona and in the context of the new EUROM network (www.presodelescorts.org / www.presodedones.wordpress.com).Parallel to the citizenship programme, important financial assistance has been provided for programmes and projects of social science and humanities working the “customs of the past” in other academic and high profile research fields. As an example, the following important projects can be seen: Humanities in the European Research Area, HERA [heranet. info]; European Cooperation in Science and technology, COST [www.cost.eu]; Horizon 2020, HO2020, [http://ec.europa.eu/program-mes/horizon2020/].These programmes have also evolved in the strict sense of the social transmission of knowledge and allow - almost obligatory - the integration of different entities, museums or professionals into academic and scientific research teams. This development is therefore somehow very positive, without forgetting an origin somewhat partial. Current programmes on European research, participation, culture or media must include, even the most academic ones, entities, new technologies and processes with social and cultural repercussions, including the participation of the citizens, what is a clear and necessary step forward.

The European Observatory of Memories is a project developed within the Solidarity Foundation of the University of Barcelona, but its network extends to different countries in Europe and beyond (Guixé, 2016).It is a research project but also a project for disseminating and managing the public memories linked to the conflicts of the twentieth century and other historical periods with a public projection of memory in the twenty-first century. The European Observatory of Memories was launched in 2012 with the aim of creating and enlarging a European network to analyse and disseminate the multiplicity of memories in Europe were validated and agreed upon with the Executive Agency for Education, Audio-visual, Culture and Civic Executive Agency through the “Europe for Citizens” programme. Our first approach to politics of memory in Europe was through the project (2012):The European democratic memory: beyond Nazism and Stalinism; where it was analysed the resolutions of the European Parliament on memory such as “European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism”. At the same time a strong network of partners began to be created, gathering the opinions of experts, institutions and politicians, as well as witness and associations. The work kept growing following a permanent transversal approach, analysing certain local, national and international cases.

The European Observatory on Memories is a true bridge of connection and work between institutions, professionals and researchers from Europe and other continents, with special attention to Latin America, where politics of memory have had a very important role in the political and social sphere in recent decades. It also shows a special interest in countries that formally do not yet belong to the European Union but which are and have been Europe. The current decade is full of challenges around the politics of memory, it is a decade of analysis, observance, learning and transnational work. Europe is the best example of the multiplicity of memories is Europe, which shape our current democratic reality and the present socio-political map. The very concept of Europe is a juxtaposition and multiplicity of memories forged day by day. This wealth compared with parallel processes, such as those we have seen in America, allows us to state that a diversity of memories should be an influence on the public politics of memory on a Europe-wide scale. Without ignoring or forgetting the great weight of the consequences of Nazism and Stalinism in terms of building democratic narratives, other processes - such as the fights against fascism, dictatorships, civil rights, peace and justice processes, democratic movements in the East, resistance and fights for freedom - have also give rise to transformative values that cannot be categorised as less important. The different national histories are far more connected than one might think, but accepting multiplicity and diversity and working according to this approach would prevent us from having to play the game of competition between memories that we observe in some groups or countries.

One of the Observatory’s aims is to tackle unashamedly and without political pressure the thematic variety of memory in the 21st century. There is an obvious need to establish a European memory network that takes into account and respects the diversity of memories, each with its own specific features and it is undoubtedly difficult or even impossible to do so without a multidisciplinary and transversal approach. Therefore, all kind of academic specialities are represented, such as art, architecture, history, anthropology, sociology, political science, ethnology, literature, working with new technologies, etc. We also count with a solid network of professionals who have worked at different levels on memory, its transmission and its patrimonial nature. This transnational and multi-disciplinary networking is coordinated horizontally by the Observatory but is fuelled and promoted with the support of its members (currently 46 members from 20 countries).

The Observatory’s approach includes specific goals summarized in the following points:

  1. To detect and analyse the different commemorative processes in the countries of Europe and other continents from the point of view of experts, professionals and civil society. Thus, the basic partners in the network are the universities, institutions and associations.
  2. To initiate a shared discussion on European and international politics of memory promoted by its institutions.
  3. To network with the project partners and others who might be able to collaborate occasionally.
  4. To prefigure and develop joint work programmes and to seek complicities, support and funding for the project.
  5. To contribute to the analysis and management of politics of memory, as well as the socialization of commemorative initiatives. A particular line is the work of remembrance carried out by civic participation.
  6. To foster multidisciplinary work and research on activities related to the creation of public memory.
  7. To foster the right of the citizens to use and reconsider the heritage of memory.
  8. To promote the Observatory as a true connecting and working bridge between institutions, professionals and researchers from Europe and other continents, paying special attention to Latin America.

In the first phase, we were interested in analysing the emerging issues related to memory, the actors who have worked from different perspectives and putting them in contact to collaborate in a network. Some of the actions have already been launched, such as the interviews held in different regions of Europe, and accessible from the Observatory website. The website helps us to disseminate the project, but also to network, as each partner has an interactive space, where digital, topographic, documentary resources or thoughts can be made available. The network is organized in three interactive levels:

  1. The institutions carrying out the project: the Solidarity Foundation of the University of Barcelona, with the help of the European Commission and the steering committee in which the City Council of Barcelona participates.
  2. The network’s partners: public or private institutions, research centres, universities and associations that adhere through the collaboration agreement and that share common goals with the Observatory and the rest of the partners. The partners also propose research activities and projects or the dissemination of memories.
  3. Indirect partners: professionals, bodies or institutions that take part in the Observatory through one of the direct partners, or who carry out a specific activity or a specific research or dissemination project, with whom specific agreements can be signed.

DIGITAL WORK OF THE OBSERVATORYTop

Since the creation of the Observatory, the digital format and mapping were chosen in order to localise, signify and indicate, not only places, but also projects, activities and partners. A digital GIS system for geolocation was incorporated into the EUROM website, which allows the integration of spheres of work at different scales and different and multiple dimensions to cover the complete different needs of our network. The indicators on the map are divided into four categories allowing to create differentiated and concentric circles by territorial spaces. Once in each circle, the type of project, card or location is differentiated by colour, where ephemeral events to permanent members of the network are indicated, each with an identification card. Obviously, there exists an updated data base and which can be updated that manages all the information behind the design of the mapping. Likewise, the format of a digital memory website allows us to connect with the world of the cultural production. Later on we will see two examples of “digital memory” promoted by the Observatory and our website; such as, e-Magazine, on the one hand, and the map and application with places of memory in Barcelona, on the other. Apart from that, the website allows also to visualize and edit the interviews held in the context of our Travelling seminars, found in the website under the name Citizens voice. It is well known that these websites allow an endless number of options, such as editing and publishing the videos of multiple congresses and seminars, creating an archive of documentation and information. A new line in which we are working on is the production of a first virtual exhibition on the exodus of political refugees and Jews during the Second World War through Spain and across the Pyrenees (Calvet, 2010) which can be edited or visited on-line.

The plan of a digital dissemination for the transfer and exchange of the results of the activities organised within the framework of the EUROM project is included in a continuous communication strategy, aligned with the global project and aimed to engage the audience and make them participate (audience engagement). In this sense, we develop segmented dissemination plans, focused on identifying, retaining and expanding our audiences. EUROM has its own communication channels and digital dissemination channels, consisting of a website, social networks, monthly newsletter (newsletter) and a mailing program. The team is made up of a journalist and a community manager, and it counts with the support of the press and marketing services of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Solidarity Foundation (FSUB).Apart from the communication teams of the partners in the Observatory’s network - a work that implies an important support in the spreading and dissemination at a local, European and international level.

The e-mailing strategies include the dissemination campaigns and the dissemination of the project results to our partners, media, activity assistants and collaborators. Currently, the EUROM contact base has approximately 2,000 e-mail addresses from more than 30 different countries. All this helps to configure a database made up of direct contacts (partners and collaborators, activity registration forms), secondary contacts (social networks, editorial staff of the media, citizen organizations, students) and specialized contacts (journalists, academy representatives, think tanks, local, national and European governments).

Among the means of dissemination there exists a monthly newsletter for the promotion of future activities aimed at the general public and all contacts. Specific activity and project campaigns are also scheduled, aimed at an audience segmented by the location of the activity, media and indirect channels. Finally, we also write notes, press calls and press kits aimed at journalists and communication teams.

The EUROM website highlights the institutional information, the activities scheduled, the projects and the partners’ network. The descriptions contain external and internal links that allow the user to expand the information by browsing through the different sections or parts of the website. As an example, below a summary:

  • Home page:
    • Slider with highlighted activities
    • General map of the project with the localization and links to activities, projects and partners
    • Schedule of activities, including our highlighted partners’ activities.
    • Feed of the latest @euromemories tweets
    • Highlights of the latest updates of the other sections in the website (Projects, Newsroom, Videos, Publications and Resources)
    • Mission, objectives and partners of the project (About us, Goals and Working Areas, Partners)
    • Footnote with registration form to the newsletter, contact, links to the institutions supporting the project, machine translation and feed Instagram.
    • Links to active social networks in the header and footer
  • About us
    The descriptive and informative (dissemination) section of the global project is made up of three sections describing the project’s mission and goals, as well as each worker’s email contact details and a contact form.
  • Network
    The section dedicated to partners of the EUROM.A map and list of partners is highlighted, with links to pages for each of them. The sites of the partners include an overview of their projects, links to their digital sites and social networks, as well as internal links to activities, projects, videos and other information drafted in collaboration with us.
  • Projects
    In this session there is a dedicated space for each project led by EUROM in collaboration with other entities and organisations. Updates are made on a project-by-project basis, and are mainly focused on the dissemination of the results:
    • Publication of specific contents, such as the audiovisual interviews of Citizens’ Voice and the cards with spaces of memory of Memorial Heritage
    • An image or logo identifying the project
    • Links to social networks dedicated to projects, and a highlight for the Storify, where we compile the results out of the dissemination of activities and projects
    • Internal links to activities, videos, partners, resources and publications, as well as to the specific press contents of each project
    • Links to the materials to disseminate each project
  • Activities and Events
    This is the most dynamic section of the website, updated according to the activities planned. It includes a gallery of activities sorted by date of publication, and a calendar, which shows EUROM’s activities and the main activities of our partners. For each activity, specific spreading and dissemination materials are generated and made visible on a dedicated site:
    Dissemination
    • Featured image
    • Image to be disseminated by means of mailing and social networks
    • Registration forms
    • Schedule of the activity
    • Map with the location of the activity when it is done in more than one location (in case of travelling seminars and conferences)
    • Links to streaming channel (when done), events on Facebook, feed of the hashtag from Twitter
    • Link to share activity on social networks
    • Press releases and/or announcements (internal and external links)
    • Featured keywords and dissemination of the specific hashtag of the activity in social networks
    • Photographs of the activity (Flickr)
    Dissemination
    • Links to dissemination and communication results (Storify, videos)
    • Press releases and press kits (internal and external links)
  • Videos
    The EUROM videos are categorized into three subsections and are linked to each related project or activity. There are mainly dissemination materials, but they also help us to reinforce the dissemination of activities and projects.
    • Citizens’ Voice collects the videos of the audiovisual project with interviews to witnesses on strategic memory issues
    • Activities is the collection of videos produced during the activities organized by EUROM
    • Documentaries is a collection of videos on some of our projects produced in collaboration with audiovisual directors
  • Resources
    This section brings together the publications made by EUROM as well as editorial articles by our direct collaborators; that is, resources made by EUROM or in collaboration with the direct collaborators. It is a newly created section intended to be expanded with the aim of implementing the contents of dissemination of the global project. The participation of the entire team includes the selection of the publications and resources published.
  • Newsroom
    This section has feed of the newsletters distributed by EUROM, a section dedicated to press releases and press kits also including a gallery dedicated to EUROM’s interviews and participation in the media. Its main function is to make the institution visible and to reinforce the dissemination and spreading of activities and projects to the international media. All the press releases published in this section are sent to our mailing press and distributed by the mailing press of the University of Barcelona, which is also in charge of publishing them in its news section.

As for the statistics of the page, the following data was available within the last year (January 2017-January 2018):6628 new users; 25,298 page views; 10,689 sessions, with an average duration of 2:59 minutes per session.

Social networks

EUROM’s social networks are mainly used to promote and disseminate activities and projects. The priority is to share our own content, as well as that of our partners. We also have the support of the community managers working for the accounts of the Solidarity Foundation of the UB and the University of Barcelona, usually in charge of disseminating our contents in a stable and “fast” way. EUROM’s social networks are also an important tool for updating interesting information on topics and issues, which is particularly useful for connecting us with related projects, partners, journalists and influencers. We work with specific strategies for each one of the social networks and prioritize their organic growth, based on the contents, the feedback to the demands of our public and the promotion of networking. The networks we use are the following:

  • Twitter: the @euromemories account has more than 1,260 followers and is one of the main on line dissemination tools. We prioritize the publication of our own and our partners’ contents, we extend the periodicity of tweets during the campaigns of activities, we mention entities and people related to the project whenever possible, and we have several lists that organize topics and profiles of our interest. The campaigns of our partners’ activities are supported with dedicated retweets and tweets. The personal account of the director of the Observatory is used to deal with opinions topics, which also supports the publications of our institutional account with retweets during our campaigns.
  • Facebook. The @europeanobservatoryonmemories page has currently more than 930 followers (followers). The organic reach of the publications are between 285 and 488 people. With a relatively low publication profile, the aim of this social network is to disseminate the contents of the EUROM website and other social networks, such as Instagram, Vimeo, Youtube, Flickr. The priority tools for EUROM in this social network are events and photo albums, as well as publications. All Facebook entries are also posted in our Twitter account.
  • Instagram. The EUROM network in Instagram (@ euromemories) has more than 300 followers. This network is used to highlight the campaigns of activities and projects by expanding the information on outstanding images. The publications take place 1 to 5 times a month, and this frequency is intensified during the campaigns. Here we also highlight the information about the spaces of memory we visit during our activities. All Instagram publications are posted on our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through the feed we keep at the bottom of our website.
  • Storify. We generate follow-up reports on the dissemination of our activities, including social networks and media from the /euromemories account. These reports are available on our website, and distributed in PDF format and via Twitter to the corresponding audiences of the activity or project.
  • Vimeo (vimeo.com/eurom) is the EUROM video platform, where we organize our audiovisual gallery and monitor the projects of filmmakers and artists.
  • Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9T 3fhRXUI23YJd9Qi97zVg) is the live broadcast channel of the activities.

E-magazine

Observing Memories is an electronic and digital magazine (e-Magazine) that intends to reflect the transnational, multidisciplinary and participative work of the European and international network promoted by the Observatory. It is an informative magazine with academic rigour. The in-depth articles have been written by experts with a wide experience in the critical and analytical thinking of the memorial processes. The digital tools have allowed us to offer a more multidisciplinary approach, allowing us to introduce videos and video art installations. The dissemination is important for us, not only among the network and partners of the Observatory, but also for the interested public from different countries who can access the contents at no cost.

In their first issue, authors such as James E. Young or Henry Rousso collaborated with in-depth articles, while shorter articles were written by Stefanie Endlich or Pavel Tychtl. This issue also featured interviews with memory studies specialist Elisabeth Jelin and Constanze Itzel about the House of European History. Special attention was paid to places of memory such as the Aljube Prison Museum in Lisbon. while articles on the monuments dedicated to the international brigade members of the United States or reviews on new memorial museums were included, such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the United States. The digital presentation format was consciously chosen to include digital and audiovisual projects and proposals such as Carolina Astudillo’s documentary on torture, preceded by a presentation by Laia Quílez. The documentary is itself a piece of video art illustrating and documenting what women tortured during the Chilean dictatorship are not allowed to “say”. They are third parties, acting as readers, volunteers or actors expressing their experiences through texts or letters who will offer their voices and the capacity of their memory transmitted to the protagonists.

THE PATHS OF MEMORY:BARCELONA DURING THE CIVIL WAR AND FRANCO REGIMETop

It began as a research project carried out by a group of historians from the Conèixer Història (ACH)Association and led by Professor Manel Risques and Jordi Guixé under the scope of the Memorial Democràtic in 2008.This first phase involved research into contemporary places of history and memory in the city of Barcelona, such as monuments, buildings, routes, symbols, public art and even tours of demonstrations. Almost 200 files were created following an exhaustive approach. The first option was to publish a guide with places of memory in the city, however after a sudden fall in public politics of memory taking place from 2011, and also affecting Catalonia, the project still waits for a better time.

Thanks to the latest aid granted by the Ministry of the Vice-President for historical memory projects, the ACH, together with the European Observatory of Memory, took up the project again and decided to turn it into a tool for dissemination, promotion, tourism and learning. About seventy different spaces were selected and not all of them retained their original form, but all of them were taken into consideration due to their historical and social importance. The project was designed and developed basically in the city of Barcelona, with trips to some archives of other cities in the same province. The files with the final contents were re-created and would eventually become the basis for a digital map and a free mobile application available in four languages (Catalan, Spanish, English and French).The mobile application project was developed within the framework of the catalogue of free applications provided by the Barcelona City Council through IMI (Municipal Institute of Informatics).

The new website and application suggests and proposes places, but also tours that the user can prepare at home and go through in real time including radars and augmented reality in the web and, above all, in the App. It was also conceived as a “tourism of memory” project, because the projection of these tours was accessible to the general public through a newly created website that had to be available in several languages to reach the maximum number of users, local or foreign. The routes would have to contain the historical data of each of the spaces as well as the necessary information to travel freely and/or au-tonomously through the proposed routes. Within the current phase (2017/2018), the European Memory Observatory is working with the City Council to take a step forward in a new version of the website and the App, which is more up to date with new trends and fully integrated into the digital dissemination tools. Other technical and economic needs that cannot be ignored in this type of project are the graphic design of the web, its hosting (hosting), the copyright of stock images as well as the costs of creative work, photography (archive and field) and consumables. Regarding the always complex copyright issue affecting the images, it was calculated with the public prices announced by the archives but finally a reduced price was negotiated as it was a non-profit and digital project.

The project

Thus, the present work of “digital memory” raises the unprecedented issue of the design and dissemination of urban tours and fills a space of information and knowledge that has not been sufficiently covered, either regularly or systematically, by any other memorial space. The interest in getting to know history “in situ” in historical spaces is demonstrated by the influx of citizens who have participated in visits to some of Barcelona’s memory sites punctually organized around commemorations or temporary exhibitions[1].

The goals of this work have been to locate, catalogue and interpret the public spaces of the city of Barcelona where historical episodes took place and where democracy was attacked, defended and claimed. Its purpose is fundamentally pedagogical, since learning strengthens the collective imaginary of past events. Common history must be made available to society and must be projected in democratic terms to society. This will allow us to build a new model of collective memory; so we believe we have provided interesting data so that society can have more elements to judge and can have a real and precise vision of the past. The outcome of the research allows us to have a catalogue of sites of memory in the city of Barcelona that can help explain through a pedagogical and objective approach the events that took place between 1931 and 1980 with the aim of achieving a more solid democracy. Upon analysis of the content, the intention of this project was and is to respond to the social demand for knowledge concerning a historical period that was silenced and manipulated for many years. By promoting the scenarios in which episodes of violence, repression, resistance and the struggle for democracy took place, we contribute to the historical reparation of the events and to the dignification of the victims of the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship, as well as their families (López, O. 2015).The content offered in the initial draft of this project has been fully developed and its implementation was conceived from the outset in different phases:

  • Historical research
  • Cataloguing of historical sites
  • Design of routes
  • Development of a multimedia tool to disseminate the results

Upon completion of the research, the proposal of the project was a design of the routes through the most relevant spaces of the city, achieving as a result thematic routes through which, for example, the confrontations between the forces loyal to the Republic and the military rebels on the day the Spanish Civil War broke out in Barcelona would be explained; the bombings suffered in the city and the defence strategies (anti-aircraft batteries and shelters); or the massive demonstrations in the streets in favour of the democratic freedom during the last part of the dictatorship.

Methodology used

There are several ways to recover the past and to be able to dignify or commemorate it by means of digital tools: consulting the written documentation, recording the oral testimony of those who lived through the events, locating and interpreting the spaces where these events took place, etc. These spaces constitute a heritage of great value that helps us to understand the past, they are called “sites or places of memory”. The present project defines spaces of memory as places where, according to what has been documented, transcendental events took place for the development of our history. These events have had a significant influence on the way we have arrived at the present times and will have an influence on the development of our future. Therefore, in our opinion sites of memory are those where democracy, the basis of our current rule of law, was promoted, defended and attacked. However, sites of memory can also be the places where there are currently monuments commemorating historical events. The steps taken to develop this methodology have been:

  • Search and filtering of the bibliography dealing with the historical facts of the Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime.
  • Research in public and private archives, libraries and newspaper libraries on the main stages of the Spanish Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime in Barcelona.
  • Cataloguing the information extracted according to its chronology, thematic and geographical scope (by district).
  • Writing of texts based on the documentation created from the research.

All this has been used to configure a complete database that can be extended and updated and works as a matrix for the website. This database contains the basic information about the available tools, metadata, information organization criteria, language selection and route typologies. The basis of the digital project contains a series of preconceived routes, designed from its historical and heritage interest, of which a complete interpretative documentation has been published: maps, tracks for GPS, links to additional information, etc. Each route contains several cards, one for each localized site of memory with the following structure:

  • Brief basic description of the space and the historical event.
  • Detailed description of the historical events that took place at that geographical point.
  • Interactive map of the route, through WMS services that offer geographic information of interest to follow the itinerary.

“Pre-production”

The final product of this project has been the creation of an on-line platform (www.memoriabcn.cat) including historical information on the so-called “sites of memory” in Barcelona related to the period of the Spanish Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War and Franco regime. However, until this website publication, there have been several previous actions that we could consider essential and belonging to the pre-production phase:

  • Historical and geographical information on the pre-defined locations
  • Cataloguing in a database of information obtained in relation to the sites of memory
  • Creation of a chronology of the historical period 1931–1980
  • Design of routes by districts
  • Drafting of texts to prepare the cards of the spaces located
  • Proofreading and translation of texts - we remind you that the work is submitted in 4 languages -
  • Current photographs of the localized sites of memory
  • Management of the copyright of the stock images
  • Design of the structure and creation of the website as a platform for the dissemination of the project
  • Creation of a digital map with Google maps technology to locate the itineraries of the routes
  • Collaboration in the creation of an application for mobile phones upon agreement with the City Council of Barcelona

The results obtained can be identified as follows:

Location of the spaces of the city of Barcelona where the main historical events of the Spanish Civil War and Franco regime were developed from → through the research of the city contemporary history and its public space in university archives, libraries and research centres. 68 spaces have been located were historical events took place, as well as other public spaces with monuments commemorating our recent history. A digital database containing the information from these “sites of memory” has been created. Thematic routes linking several sites of memory with a global and coherent view of history → cataloguing of the identified spaces according to the historical period and the corresponding district. From there, 10 different routes have been designed following a thematic and geographical logic to be walked on foot.

Democratization of the study information through a multimedia tool (web site) that allows the user to freely visit the spaces on his own → creation and diffusion of the web page www.memoriabcn.cat completely free of charge and available in four languages: Catalan, English, French and Spanish. In addition to that, the project was extended with the creation of an application for mobile phones developed in parallel with the City Council of Barcelona whose project content was provided by the association (APP “memoriabcn”, Associació Conèixer Història and EUROM).The combination of both allows local and foreign citizens to go through on their own and without language barriers through the different routes easily accessing the information through their mobile devices.

Valuation of the tangible historical heritage of the city among the local and foreign citizenship → This result has already been achieved with the identification of 68 historical sites, the localization of its geographical coordinates, its cataloguing and dissemination, taking into account that they are part of the tangible historical heritage of the city, the cataloguing of the information and its subsequent dissemination. The transmission of these contents contributes the knowledge of our recent past, helping to better understand the present and to strengthen the democratic feeling of citizenship. In short, a new dissemination platform, completely widespread within the new technologies, which will attract a young audience to the contents of the project and will offer the public the opportunity to comfortably go through the proposed routes with all the information at hand; information which could have previously been consulted on the website of the project.

TO BE CONTINUEDTop

The work on memory in its broadest sense owes its present and future to the digital application and new technologies. The activation of memory must be digital and social in the future. Without these two axes, the dissemination will be restricted to a public going as in a pilgrimage or the commemorative frenzy. This is why the great theorists on the work of memory, such as Hirsch, Huyssen or Hoeisel, are also increasingly addressing the dissemination issue through modern and modernizing channels. In EUROM, we have applied - or tried to apply - digital and numerical parameters to disseminate the work of our network. Without the projects previously presented, I would dare to foresee the failure of the horizontal network of transnational work. The dissemination and promotion of the different websites and social networks are our communication channel, but also an efficient tool when it comes to organizing, structuring, researching and disseminating our projects, works and publications. Rather than a conclusion, I would like to point out the continuation of this project by means of a new digital project that we are about to launch with HISMEDI and the professor Matilde Eiroa (Eiroa, 2018). A European-wide digital media survey on concepts and debates around the politics of memory. A project that will be discussed in Brussels and with two working axes: the qualitative axis, the selection of countries, actors and concrete surveys; and the quantitative one aimed to create a meta-database through a digital scan to configure a map or maps of the use, abuse and assignment of the selected concepts.

This permanent working methodology is, in my opinion, another task to be continued in our network and our research and dissemination work. However, it will also determine a step forward in the need to promote the analysis of websites, platforms and digital social networks with the third decade of the 21st century around the corner.


NOTESTop

[1]

It is worth mentioning the routes organized on the Spanish Civil War sites -also carried out by the Spanish Civil War Tours association (http://thespanishcivilwar.com) with great influx of Anglo-Saxon visitors, the route on the memory spaces of Les Corts and the disappeared women’s prison www.memoriabcn.cat / www.presodedones.blogspot.com / www.presodelescrots.org), the routes on repression and dictatorship in the city of Barcelona, and a new but prolific tour on the memory of colonialism and slavery in the city. Most of these routes have been promoted by the same digital project and carried out by the same Associació Conèixer Història in collaboration with the European Observatory on Memory.

BIBLIOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHYTop

Abat, Francesc, El camp de la Bota, video y fotografía, 2004–2007. Web y videoinstalación.
Bonder, Julian, El memorial de la esclavitud de Nantes, Video del proyecto previo.
Browning, Cristopher (2002) Des Hommes ordinaires, Paris. Les Belles Lettres.
Calvet, Josep (2010) Las montañas de la libertad. El paso de refugiados por los Pirineos durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial 1939–1944, Alianza Editorial, Barcelona.
Cywinski, Piotr, “Auschwitz: entre la memoria y la responsabilidad”, conferencia en el Día Internacional de las Víctimas del Holocausto, Museu d’Història de la Ciutat de Barcelona-EUROM, 2018.
DECRETO 1904/2006/CE, Parlamento Europeo y Consejo Europeo, 12 de diciembre de 2006. Orden aprobada OJEC L 378/32,27 de diciembre de 2006.
Eiroa, Matilde (coord.)(2018), Historia y memoria en Red. Un nuevo reto para la historiografía. Síntesis, Madrid.
Furet, François & Calligaro, Oriane, (2012) “La mémoire européenne en action. Acteurs, enjeux et modalités de la mobilisation du passé comme ressource politique pour l’Union européenne” Politique Européenne, 37/2:18–43.
Gerz, Joachim, “La certitude et le role du temps”, in: Representer l’Irreprésentable?, 2015.Videoinstalación y performance.
Gross, Jan Tomasz (2001) Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Guixé Coromines, Jordi (ed.)(2016) Past and Power, public policies on Memory, debates from global to local. Publicaciones Universidad de Barcelona, Barcelona.
Halbwachs, Maurice (2004) La Memoria Colectiva. Prensas Universitaria de Zaragoza, Zaragoza.
Hirsch, Marianne, “Mobilising Memory for Change”, COST meeting in Central European University, Budapest, 2014.
Hoeisel, Horst (2007) Moving Monuments, Ravernsbruck.
Huyssen, Andreas (2002) En busca del futuro perdido. Fondo de Cultura Económica, México.
Lavabre, Marie-Claire & Gensburger, Sarah (2012) “D’une mémoire européenne à l’européanisation de la «mémoire»”, Politique Européenne, 37/2:9–17.
Lucas, Cristina, Oral Memories, Madrid, 2012. Videoinstalación.
Jelin, Elizabeth (2012) Los trabajos de la memoria. Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Lima.
López Badell, Oriol (2015) “The recovery of memory sites in the city of Barcelona: Discovering the past through new media”. In Travelling Europe. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Place and Space, editado por Ivor Borton et al. (eds). Cambridge Scholars Publishing:133–145.
Marton, Katy, “Hungary’s Authoritarian Descent”, New York Times, 04/11/2014.
Mondizain, Marie-José, “Nous ne nous en sortirons que par une révolution politique”, dans Ateliers Varan, 11, 2014.
Mink, Georges & Neumayer, Laure (2007) L’Europe et ses passés douloureux. La Découverte, Paris.
Norman, Kristina, 0.8 Square meters, Two Channel, Video Installation, 2012.
Prutsch, Markus, J. (2015), European Historical Memory: Policies, Challenges and perspectives. Artikel, Brussels.
Quílez Esteve, Laia (2017) “The unspeakable. Feminine resistances: The figure of the republican women in Carolina Astudillo’s documentary cinema”, Observing Memories, 1, EUROM, Universidad de Barcelona.
Ramoneda, Josep, “Repensar Europa”, conferencia en Memoria y Poder, Universidad de Barcelona, mayo 2014.
Rothberg, Michael (2009) Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford University Press.
Sánchez Castillo, Fernando, Baraka y Táctica, Madrid 2012.
Sarlo, Beatriz (2005) Tiempo pasado: cultura de la memoria y giro subjetivo. Una discusión. Siglo XXI, Buenos Aires.
Sierp, Aline & Wüstenberg, Jenny (2015) “Linking the Local and the Transnational:Rethinking Memory Politics in Europe”, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 23,3:321–329.
Snyder, Timothy “A common History for modern Europe, a Proposal”, 5th Networking Meeting with organizations active in the field of memory and remembrance, Tallinn May 2015.
Sokol, Sam “German occupation statue in Budapest not a Holocaust memorial”, Jerusalem Post, 11/06/2014.
Torres, Francesc, Belchite/South Bronx, Nueva York-Barcelona, 1998. Videoinstalación.
Traverso, Enzo (2009), “L’Europe et ses mémoires. Trois perspectives corisées”, Raison politiques, 36:151–168.
Vinyes, Ricard (2011) Asalto a la Memoria, Impunidades, reconciliaciones, símbolos y éticas. Libros del Lince, Barcelona.
Vinyes, Ricard (ed.)(2009) El Estado y la memoria. RBA, Barcelona.
Young, James E. (2017) “The Memorial’s Arc: Between Berlin’s Denkmal and New York City’s 9/11 Memorial” in Observing Memories, 1, EUROM, Universidad de Barcelona.



Copyright (c) 2019 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Contact: historia.digital@cchs.csic.es

Technical support: soporte.tecnico.revistas@csic.es