Joint Online Conference by Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, Leibniz-Institute for European History, Catholic University Leuven, University of Amsterdam supported by the Leibniz Research Alliance Historical Authenticity
Historical memory is playing a central role, especially in Eastern European, in shaping national identities and legitimizing claims to leadership. Remarkably, history is currently not simply politized, but history is also being sacralized. Historical evidence, myths and stereotypes are declared “authentic” and therefore beyond doubt or criticism. Secular and sacral rituals, venerated objects and marked spaces are used to strengthen feelings of national identity and belonging. Religious authorities and churches are often involved in the sacralization of historical politics. Populist parties and regimes also make use of history in this manner.
The conference will explore the sacralization of history, with a focus on Eastern Europe. Here, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the erasure of Soviet traditions and interpretations of history have enabled or made politicians and societies to search or rediscover a connection to their “own usable past.” In addition to the Russian Federation and Ukraine, there is currently an intensive public engagement, for example, with history in the Baltic states, Poland and Hungary, and in the Balkans. Yet, the politics of historical memory is also experiencing a boom in Western Europe, particularly in countries such as Germany and other member states of the European Union, where populist parties have emerged.