Focus area

Dealing with the Past

How the past is remembered, forgotten, or silenced is always a highly contentious issue. In many European countries there are regular outbreaks of emotion over difficult topics such as colonialism, slavery, discrimination and violent or armed conflict. EuroClio addresses the role of history education in post-conflict societies, and aims to aid educators and decision-makers to constructively discuss conflicting memories and narratives, and to deal with emotional and sensitive histories.

Teaching controversial history with focus on conflict prevention and conflict resolution can help strengthen democracies, but for history educators and decision-makers tackling these histories is still a major challenge. Consequently, difficult histories are regularly avoided in the classroom, and political responses to these controversies are largely made in haste in the face of public protests or social media campaigns.

EuroClio seeks to overcome these challenges by developing principles, best-practices, case-studies, and resources to help guide teachers, students and decision-makers to identify, verbalize, understand and debate the historical roots of sensitive issues in order to foster awareness of contested histories today, and to combat stereotypes and xenophobia.

In the past, EuroClio has helped to establish programs, textbooks, forums for dialogue and trainings in many countries in political transformation, and in particular those with inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions such as Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. It has also worked in regions that have experienced recent violent conflicts such as the former Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Lebanon, and the Caucasus. The work has brought together hundreds of historians and history educators to share experiences, implementing innovative learning that deals with sensitive and controversial issues, and creating new and inclusive historical narratives.