Safeguarding a Pluralistic Approach to the Yugoslav Wars through History Education

Learning History that is not yet History II - Blogpost #1

The wars in the Balkans that marked the end of Yugoslavia are ever-present in the collective memory of the countries in the region. The highly sensitive and divisive events left behind their scars and influence societies that both include citizens who have lived the events, as well as the younger generation perceiving the wars as history. This blogpost is the first contribution to a series of blogs, dedicated to our project Learning History that is not yet History II (LHH2). The series will grant an insight into the project and an array of topics related to it, with contributions from the project partners and EuroClio.

Contributing to strengthening stability in the Balkans

The aim of Learning History that is not yet History II is to promote a pluralistic approach to teaching the 1990s Yugoslav wars. No topic is more sensitive or divisive in the Balkans, which makes teaching about this a challenge. We strive to offer a balanced view of the historical events that will lead to mutual understanding in the region, and will ultimately contribute to strengthening stability in the Balkans. However, this is not an overnight process. LHH2 is the embodiment of the special relationship between EuroClio and the region. EuroClio and its members have been working in the Balkans for more than 20 years, strengthening the capacity of the history teachers’ associations, developing workshops with and for local teachers, creating a repository for historical sources and creating resources about common regional history.

The crown on the work of years of trust building

All the results of these past efforts combined will help us create teaching materials which can be used in the classroom and provide teachers the resources to implement the materials as smoothly as possible. Through our previous experience working in the Balkans, and closely collaborating with project members throughout the whole region, trust was established between the people. This allowed us for a strong network to be created, along with the skills in making educational materials. Building this special relationship was crucial in order to tackle the sensitive topic of the 1990s wars. Our strong connections in the region serve as a foundation for the project and the time has arisen to create lessons about the Yugoslav wars. Conclusively, making the LHH2 project the crown on the work of years of trust building in the region.

Follow-up on the award-winning project and broadening the scope

The project is a follow up on the award-winning Learning History that is not yet History (LHH) project. Many steps have been made and successes achieved, and as a crowning of the work the LHH team was awarded the Global Pluralism Award 2019 by the Global Centre for Pluralism (GCP). LHH2 will continue the efforts in the Balkans and with the award money, we were able to get started with making lesson plans about the 1990s wars, developed by local educators from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. With additional support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was possible to bring all 7 countries on board. This considerably broadens the project’s scope to the dissolution of the 1990s. Multiperspectivity is imperative to tackling the 1990s wars and being able to include all 7 countries in the project, provided us the valuable partnership to do so.  

The outputs of the project

Building on the results of its predecessor, the outputs of the projects will be 18 ready-to-use lesson plans. In order to safeguard multiperspectivity, the lesson plans will be made in cross-border teams. The themes of these lesson plans will yet be defined, depending on the needs and expertise of the authors. An additional Teacher’s Guide will similarly be part of the project’s outputs, equipping teachers with the accurate knowledge on how to smoothly implement the lesson plans. Teaching sensitive topics can be confrontational, therefore, themes such as dealing with emotions and controversies will be included in the Guide. Along with the lesson plans and Teacher’s Guide, LHH2 aims to reach as many teachers as possible in the region, to bring about the biggest impact. In order to achieve this, a new redesigned LHH2 website will act as a hub for the project initiative. To further promote the project and the activities in the Balkans, a promotional video will be made to give an insight into the project’s discussions and varying views and experiences of everyone involved in the project. Lastly, to complement this, local partners will launch a communication campaign to reach local stakeholders. This way, the mission of LHH2 to increase mutual understanding and strengthen stability in the Balkans will be broadened.

How Can Pluralism Strengthen Peace?

Lorraine Besnier EUROCLIO

EuroClio is pleased to see that the award-winning "Learning History that is not yet History" team is receiving recognition for their work at the Paris Peace forum at the event:

How Can Pluralism Strengthen Peace?
Lessons from the 2019 Global Pluralism Award winners

The Global Center for Pluralism will discuss how history education and community-based reconciliation can help strengthen pluralism, sustain peace and prevent conflict in diverse societies.

Meredith Preston McGhie, the Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, will be joined by Bojona Dujkovic and Aung Kyaw Moe, the two winners of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award.

Bojona Dujkovic is part of the EuroClio's 'Learning History that is not yet History' team, that worked on answering the question: How to teach the history of recent wars that is often considered not to be history yet, but is remembered in so many different ways, and has been investigated in great detail in the context of transitional justice?

The team consisted mostly of teachers and their associations from former Yugoslavia. Several outcomes arose from that project, namely a an online database of existing educational resources dealing with the 1990s wars, a workshop, a research report and policy recommendations.

The event in Paris will discuss how many of the most intractable challenges we face today − from entrenched poverty to conflict-driven migration − stem from the exclusion and resentment of groups defined as “the other”.

Group-based grievances arising from inequality, exclusion and feelings of injustice increase the risk of instability and conflict. Pluralism is the choice to see diversity contribute to the common good. Making this choice is essential to building more secure, peaceful and resilient societies.

 

EuroClio’s project team “Learning History That Is Not Yet History” announced as winner of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award

Deborah Ahenkorah (Ghana), the Center for Social Integrity (Myanmar) and ‘Learning History That Is Not Yet History’ (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) recognized as outstanding leaders promoting inclusion worldwide.

Ottawa, Canada – October 15, 2019 – On October 15th 2019, the Global Centre for Pluralism announced the three winners of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award: Deborah Ahenkorah – a young Ghanaian social entrepreneur and book publisher bringing African children’s stories to life; the Center for Social Integrity - an organization giving youth from conflict-affected regions in Myanmar the skills and voice to be leaders for change amidst the many overlapping conflicts ongoing in the country; and ‘Learning History that is not yet History’ - a network of history educators and specialists in the Balkans pioneering a new approach to teaching the controversial history of conflict.

The Global Pluralism Award celebrates achievement and excellence in the field of pluralism. The Award is presented once every two years to individuals, organizations, governments and businesses of any nationality. Through their remarkable and sustained achievements, awardees contribute to building more inclusive societies in which human diversity is protected.

The winning project, ‘Learning History that is not yet History’, was carried out by a team (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) of historians and educators who have been working for over 16 years to develop a responsible way of teaching the history of conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Recognizing that teachers often feel ill-equipped to teach these sensitive and controversial topics, the network created an online database of free resources and provides training for teachers. They represent the only regional effort to provide a non-biased approach to learning and teaching about the recent wars.

EuroClio wishes to thank everyone involved in this project: the project team Aleksander Todosijević, Nataša Kostić, Emina Zivković, Bojana Dujković-Blagojević, Melisa Forić, Marija Naletilić, Dea Marić, Igor Jovanović, Miljenko Hajdarović, Miloš Vukanović, Igor Radulović, project experts Mire Mladenovski, Marko Šuica, Edin Veladzić, Saša Knežević, Snjezana Koren, Aleksandar Jakir and project managers Jonathan Even-Zohar and Judith Geerling.

Everyone in this project has showed true dedication to working towards an inclusive history teaching and we could not be prouder of  the work that has been produced.

Thank you again to everyone who made this project a success!

Successful Staff Training in Topola, Serbia

EuroClio Project Updates

EuroClio is glad to inform that the first short term staff training for the project ‘Learning to Disagree’ was a success. The training was organized by EuroClio in cooperation with the local partner Education for the 21st Century and took place in Topola (Serbia) from 23 March 2018 to 26 March 2018. Network Coordinator Jaco Stoop said it was organized with “[the] aim of responding to the needs of educators who experience difficulties in addressing sensitive and controversial issues in the classroom.” For the training there were 35 history and citizenship educators present from 21 countries: Spain, Serbia, France, Ireland, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Macedonia, Estonia, Belgium, Italy, Greece and Hungary.

The training consisted out of a variety of activities that were relevant for the project topic. Our partners from Mount School York, Maynooth University and Education in the 21st Century gave high quality workshops on teaching and the assessment of sensitive topics in history and civic education. They provided the participants with some very useful teaching strategies and tools to stimulate responsible dialogue, discussion and debate in their classes. Furthermore, the participants were motivated to actively engage in the Learning to Disagree topic by participating in discussion sessions where participants shared their thoughts on teaching about the project’s topic in history education in their countries. Overall, participants said they were excited and looked forward to implementing the newly learned strategies in their classrooms. They also liked the fact that the workshops provided participants with various opportunities to discuss different manners in teaching history in Europe, “as well as the awareness of connections, similarities and parallel developments across Europe (regarding historical development). This all provides interesting cases of information to bring back to [their] school.”

The next training event for the core team of Learning to Disagree project will take place in Germany from 22-24 August 2018. EuroClio is very satisfied with this first productive training and hopes that the enthusiasm amongst the participants will continue over the course of the entire project.

The report of this meeting can be found here.

ISHA Berlin – Common Ground

EuroClio Project Updates

ISHA Berlin applied for EuroClio’s and Europe for Citizens’ project “Learning a history that is ‘not yet history’” with an idea for a project our section had striven to bring about for more than a year: ISHA Berlin went to visit the Maxim Gorki Theatre’s play “Common Ground” on the wars in former Yugoslavia with a group of students from various areas of study as well as levels of study, ranging from first semesters to PhD students. The next day, the group participated in a workshop by the theatre educator Astrid Petzoldt. The Maxim Gorki Theatre is one of Berlin’s state theatres and won the ‘Theatre of the year’ award in 2014, for productions such as “Common Ground”. With productions such as this one by director Yael Ronen, the Maxim Gorki Theatre has accomplished that more than a fourth of their visitors are within the young sector and notably, with specifically the production “Common Ground”, they have succeeded in reaching youngsters with a lower educational level.

One of the reasons for this achievement is that the theatre offers free workshops for school classes that accompany the plays, providing background information and exercises to approach the characters’ inner conflicts and relationships to others. “Common Ground” is based on the actors real lives and experiences: For the play, a group of seven actors – five of whom have a Yugoslav background – travelled to Bosnia to try to come to terms with their personal and family history during the Yugoslav wars as well as with their migration to Berlin, where they co-exist with other victims or other perpetrators of the wars. Notably to us, a group of mostly history students, the play does not focus on the events of the wars and makes no attempt to explain the disintegration of Yugoslavia. At one point, the character Nils – who functions as the ignorant German in the story – comically tries to explain Yugoslavia’s geography with his body parts, failing in a stumbling manner.

Rather, the play focuses on how the characters come to terms with the violence that they themselves and their families have encountered, with the guilt they feel and with the forgiveness they muster in confronting the suffering of the Other.

In the workshop the next day, we enjoyed some of the activities that school classes usually do in preparation for the play, in the next discussing the techniques used to encourage understanding with and empathy for the characters.

One of the most impressive stories told of in the play is the one of Jasmina and Mateja, whose one father killed the father of the other in a concentration camp in Novi Sad. This is the story of the actresses and non-fiction. One activity in the workshop was for a group of two to come up with ten questions, from Mateja’s perspective for Jasmina, while another group of two came up with ten questions from Jasmina’s perspective to Mateja. In the dialogue that followed, the groups tried to answer the questions from their characters’ perspectives. This was the activity that impressed me the most during the workshop, and I believe this activity shows where the interdisciplinary approach – approximating recent history with art – can be of the most benefit to the history educator. To my mind, when approaching such a difficult recent past as the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, where ethnicity was made to be an irreconcilable obstacle to open or even peaceful human interaction, art or specifically the theatre can become a means of expression that facilitates the dialogue between perpetrators and/or victims.

For ISHA Berlin, the event was very successful, since we accomplished to reach many students who had not attended an ISHA event previously, about two thirds of the group. For about half of them, the visit to the play “Common Ground” was their first critical engagement with the wars in former Yugoslavia, since many of the group where students of art history, literature or theatre arts

ISHA Belgrade – ’90 is Serbia: The collapse of Yugoslavia and cultural transition

EuroClio Project Updates

Report by Ognjen Tomić

From the moment our section was selected to participate in EuroClio’s project “Teaching history that is not yet history” in September, ISHA Belgrade has diligently worked on organizing our local conference. Every week, our work group gathered and discussed about topic of the event and it’s schedule. After all this hard work we were proud to announce that our conference would last three days: from Friday, 24th of November until Sunday, 26th of November, and it will be comprised of series of lecture, movie projections and discussions. The whole event will be happening on our Faculty of Philosophy in the center of Belgrade. The main topic of the conference will be historiography about the war in the ’90, and culture transition of Serbia and Belgrade in that age.  Thus, the title of our conference will be: ’90 is Serbia: The collapse of Yugoslavia and cultural transition.

Opening ceremony took place on Friday night, and soon after that, and featured a lecture about methodology of the history, led by dr Marko Šuica, professor  from the University of Belgrade. After that, our guests enjoyed the first of our movie projections: film from 1996, “Lepa sela lepo gore.”(Pretty village, pretty flame”)

We continued our conference in Saturday with a series of events regarding the topics of: students protests in Belgrade, changes in historiography about the nineties, and the question of writing the common schoolbooks for ex Yugoslavian countries. The last day was “reserved” for culture: there was a round –table discussion about the culture of the nineties in Serbia, and its influence on present day Serbian society.

 

 

 

ISHA Skopje – Yugoslav Wars Through the Social Prism

EuroClio Project Updates

On December 2, the conference “Yugoslav wars through the social prism” took place in Skopje, Macedonia. The conference was organised by the International Students of History Association (ISHA), as a part of the EuroClio project “History that is not yet History”, and was attended by about 60 people. The conference was attended by a wide range of participants: historians, researchers, educators, community activists and others interested in this topic. The event included talks by our ISHA members, professors from the Faculty of Philosophy and guests from ISHA Osijek and ISHA Sofia. They discussed how Yugoslav wars affected the social life, economic situation, music, cinematography, sports, minorities, education etc.

Тhe event was divided into two working sections and included 9 presentations. For some of them there were presentations with photos and audio and video files. The guests had the opportunity to ask questions and discussed the topics. Feedback from the conference was very positive. Participants greatly enjoyed the chance to meet like-minded people from another countries, the opportunity to learn from one another, and the chance to explore ideas.

Workshops included:

Borce Ilievski, PhD – (Faculty of Philosophy – Skopje) “The influence of the crisis
in Yugoslavia in the 80s and the socio-cultural processes”

Angel Kocev – (Faculty of Philosophy – Skopje) – “The Economic Situation of
Yugoslavia in the Last Years of Its Existence”

Donna Canovska – (ISHA Sofia) – “Economic consequences of the imposition of
the south embargo on Bulgaria”

Stjepan Leko – (ISHA Osijek) “The role of music in the Croatian War of
Independence”

Ljube Klekaroski – (Faculty of Law – Skopje) – “Minorities in Vojvodina in the
Period of the Disintegration of Yugoslavia”

Nikol Marinova – (ISHA Sofia) – “Cultural Revolution” in Bulgaria in the 90s of
the 20th century ”

Dunja Tomić – (ISHA Osijek) – “A Review of the Croatian War of Independence
in Croatian Cinematography”

Boban Gjorgjievski – (ISHA Skopje) – “Domestic and school education as a
barrier to social changes during the peak of the Yugoslav crisis (1990-1995)”

Tomi Panov (Faculty of Philosophy – Skopje) – “Stellar Odyssey in red, white and
blue”

Learning a History that is ‘not yet History’

How to teach the history of recent wars that is often considered not to be history yet, but is remembered in so many different ways, and has been investigated in great detail in the context of transitional justice? This is the main question the project seeks to answer by investing in a unique partnership among teachers and their associations from former Yugoslavia, in which transnational teams will collaboratively create a free ready-to-use learning resource about the 1990s Yugoslav wars.

This resource explores how this history should be addressed in a multi-perspective way; how war impacts developed societies and everyday life and to what extent history educators can also address current wars across the world through the lens of the experiences in the wars of the 1990s.

Project Aims

The project aims to contribute to the field of European remembrance through raising the awareness among teachers, students and pupils that common approaches to the very sensitive past are possible, so that they may raise awareness in their countries that common remembrance is possible.

  • To contribute to citizens’ understanding of the Union, its history and diversity.
  • To raise awareness of remembrance, common history and values and the Union’s aim that is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples by stimulating debate, reflection and development of networks.

Outcomes

  • An ONLINE DATABASE with 100+ entries of existing (educational) resources that could be used in teaching the 1990s in schools, reviewed and agreed upon by representatives from all countries. This is available in four local languages (Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian) as well as English on the website devedesete.net.
  • An exemplar WORKSHOP on War(s) in photos commonly developed by two authors from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. This activity is designed for teachers, and serves as an example of how this sensitive topic could be tackled in the classroom.
  • A RESEARCH REPORT on an European-wide survey on how the 1990s wars are remembered (personal level) and officially commemorated across Europe. The survey was designed in cooperation with ISHA and distributed online in the period October-December 2017, resulting in 175 responses from 31 countries. The report looks at the involvement of the country of the respondent in the 1990s wars, and the official state commemorations or other commemorations related to these wars.
  • Joint RECOMMENDATIONS on how to teach the 1990s wars responsibly. The report Making sense of the past that refuses to pass was developed by the project experts, with feedback of the whole team. It touches upon challenges in learning and teaching of the subject of history in primary and secondary schools in respective countries, and provides recommendations for responsible teaching of the wars in Yugoslavia and its successor states, making use of existing guidelines, recommendations and educational approaches to the teaching of other sensitive and controversial topics. Click here to download the recommendations.

Local ISHA Events

In order to raise awareness and stimulate discourse about the remembrance of the Yugoslav Wars, International Students of History Association (ISHA) will be organizing the following local events for students and educators in the months of November and December 2017. These events are organised in close cooperation with EuroClio, and aim to promote a multi-perspective approach to these sensitive historical issues.

  • ISHA Berlin: Visit to the Theatre and Workshop on the play “Common Ground” with the Maxim-Gorki-Theatre (5th – 6th of November)
  • ISHA Belgrade: The 1990s in Serbia: Collapse of Yugoslavia and the Cultural Transition (24th -26th of November)
  • ISHA Graz: Learning a History that is not yet History (28th of November)
  • ISHA Zagreb: (Anti)war propaganda during the 90’s Yugoslav Wars (30th of November – 1st of December)
  • ISHA Skopje: The wars in Yugoslavia through the social prism (2nd of December)
  • ISHA Sarajevo: Everyday life in Sarajevo during the war 1992-1995 (8th and 9th of December)
  • ISHA Maribor: The Ten-Day War: Through the Prism of History and the People (11th of December)
  • ISHA Osijek: Life during the sieges in Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s (12th and 13th of December)
  • ISHA Ljubljana: Youth in Yugoslavia, growing up before and after the break of Yugoslavia (14th of December and 18th of December)
  • ISHA Budapest: “Not Yet Our History?” – Remembering and Teaching the Yugoslav Wars in Hungary (15th of December)

At the ISHA event in Maribor, participants filled in a survey meant to analyze how the 1990s Yugoslav Wars are remembered and commemorated across Europe. The report which analyses the results is available to download here.

For a concise overview of all activities for this project, click here.

 

Below you will find reports for the remaining public events:

ICTY Development Workshop in The Hague

Public Debate Event in Brussels 

 

 

The Project at a Glance


 

 

Donors

The Europe for Citizens Active European Remembrance Action

The Europe for Citizens Active European Remembrance Action

Members

[BOSNIA] EUROCIO - HIP

ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL HISTORY Serbia

 

 

[MONTENGRO] HIPMONT

 

 

[CROATIA] Association for Education and Human rights promotion

 

 

 

[CROATIA] Documenta - Center for dealing with the past

 

 

 

[CROATIA] University of Split

Advisors

[MACEDONIA] ANIM

FILOZOFSKI FAKULTET

Partners

ICTY

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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