Dutch society is diverse, and Dutch citizens express in everyday life their multiple identities and perspectives. However, Dutch society has also seen plenty of controversy when a one-sided view on history and heritage has inflamed public debate. We need to get to the root causes of this kind of conflict, radicalisation and polarisation. Could people's interpretations of the past be one of these root causes?
Whereas every society has its own peculiar struggle with 'dealing with the past', there is an emerging understanding of common challenges.
On the 14th of July, the symposium "The Past: The Elephant in the Room of Diverse Societies?" will bring together views and experiences of civil society activists, including educators, cultural workers, and engaged citizens, from The Netherlands, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina, India, Lebanon and Ukraine.
What can you expect?
We will start the day with a critical look at Dutch society from the perspective of an outsider and an insider, introducing relevant debates surrounding the Golden Coach and Black Pete controversies. Dr. Timothy Ryback, contributor to The New Yorker and director of the Institute of Historical Justice and Reconciliation, will share his view on the ethics of facing historical legacies of the past. In particular, the discussion will address difficult issues of identity, belonging, and polarisation. It is clear from the public debate in The Netherlands that radically opposing views on these matters challenge social cohesion.
Global perspectives, including those from Colombia, Croatia and South Africa, will be introduced by leading history educators who have traveled across the world to share their experiences and gain new insights. Their personal and professional journeys demonstrate the difficult nature of dealing with the past in divided, post-conflict societies. Often the recent, violent past has directly and immediately impacted their lives. How have they transformed their experiences into a catalyst for positive change?
The afternoon will explore in practical terms how civil society initiatives are finding ways to address sensitive histories for a range of societal purposes, including reconciliation, intercultural dialogue and social cohesion.
We hope to meet you during our symposium and to learn from one another, in the Netherlands and across the world, whether we are frank enough about the elephant in the room.
The symposium is organised by EuroClio - Inspiring History and Citizenship Educators, the Anna Lindh Foundation Netherlands Network and the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, and the event is made possible by the generosity of the Robert Bosch Foundation and Konferentie Nederlandse Religieuzen.
10.00 Panel discussion: “Sensitive history in the Netherlands”
11.45 Panel discussion: “Dealing with the past: a global perspective”
14.00 First round of workshops
15.30 Second round of workshops
16.45 Conclusions, reflections and closing remarks