23 March | Experiencing War! Sensitive Heritage and Popular Culture

Maria Grever and Kees Ribbens have been invited to present a paper at the Utrecht ERCOMER seminar on March 23, 2015.

Abstract

Today, museums aim at bringing the past overwhelmingly nearby. This (re)mediation takes place with sophisticated techniques, such as three dimensional and audio-visualized performances with touch screens, animations and apps. Particularly war museums offer impressive examples. They urge the public not to miss the experience "where history comes alive and the dramatic events are brought startlingly close." Visitors can dwell through staged battles along replicas of battered houses, artillery, tanks, life-size dummies of soldiers with original film fragments projected on the walls and noisy soundtracks. People can experience this violent past also at home by visiting websites and playing video games.

In this paper we will focus on the current longing for immediate encounters with the past, particularly with sensitive heritage of war. What does this mean for the enhancement of historical consciousness of young people? To what extent are formal educational practices in schools and articulations of war in the trans-national popular culture compatible?

We will discuss some outcomes of the NWO research program on heritage education (2009-2014), related to the recently published monograph: Maria Grever and Carla van Boxtel, Verlangen naar tastbaar verleden. Erfgoed, onderwijs en historisch besef (Hilversum 2014). Next we will present the research project 'Historical Games on WWII', one of three projects of our newly funded research War! Popular Culture and European Heritage of Major Armed Conflicts (2015-2018).