Theory of History and Historical Culture

The Center for Historical Culture is one of the areas of the History @ Erasmus research community. It researches the dynamics of changing encounters with sensitive pasts since ca. 1800, focusing on war and large scale violence. We study these encounters from the inclusive concept of historical culture, which basically means how people attribute meaning to the past on three interrelated levels: historical narratives; mnemonic infrastructures; conceptions of history (progress, eschatology). This approach encompasses material and immaterial culture, academic and popular genres: from writing and reading historiographies and schoolbooks, visiting heritage sites to playing video games, re-enacting sensitive pasts, and engaging in mnemonic discussions on social media.

Apart from the contents of collective memory and historical imagination, we study how relationships with the past are established via interactions between human agency, tradition, performance of memory, historical representations and their dissemination, as well as the presumptions about what constitutes history. Hence, this type of research is characterized by a theoretical meta-perspective, giving space to reflections on historiography, including public history, methodology and the theory of history. From this perspective we analyse how social, political and technological developments, as well as globalisation, prompt the remediation of historical narratives and the creation of new ones.

The programme War! Popular Culture and European Heritage of Major Armed Conflicts exemplifies this kind of research.