Introduction to Dis/unified Time & Heritage

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Abstract


Dis/unified Time & Heritage

 

The quest for national unity has been one of the great currents in the European project of modernity – in the nineteenth century it culminated in the unification of two of Europe’s biggest countries, Germany and Italy – and a development that continued into the twentieth century primarily through the accession to nationhood of countries formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as well as of the former European colonies across the globe.

Today, globalisation challenges us to think in terms of a unified humanity; neither economic nor ecological developments can now be contained within the boundaries of nation states. The European Union has consolidated powers that were previously the domain of national government and while the entry of eastern European countries into the EU undoubtedly is a sign of European unification, the stresses caused by the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath now threaten to dissolve what has been achieved.

The papers in this section raise topical questions by presenting case studies that highlight the process of constructing a shared heritage. Veronika Pehe investigates how Czech culture turns to a re-assessment of its past at a time when the country has left its position in the socialist East Block and become a member of a Western-oriented, capitalist European Union. Davina Kuh Jakobi offers a case study of the Russian “Twelve Feasts” icon as a means for reflecting on the ways in which conservation is a process that navigates inextricably entwined cultural, historical, artistic and religious needs and values. Gaëlle Fisher’s paper explores the role and function of memory and remembering for the displaced populations of Bukovina – an ethnically diverse region where Jews and Germans co-existed harmoniouslybefore the trauma of the Second World War and the Holocaust. In various ways these three case studies reveal how the feeling of sharing a cultural heritage does not come about automatically through political integration, but is something that needs to be fostered with an awareness of the stakes involved.


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