N° 37, 2012/2 – From a European Memory to the Europeanization of Memory


edited by Sarah Gensburger, Marie-Claire Lavabre, 2012/2 (n°37)


Special Report


Sarah Gensburger, Marie-Claire Lavabre – From a European Memory to the Europeanization of Memory


Oriane Calligaro, François Foret – European Memory in Action. Actors, Issues, and Methods in Mobilizing the Past as a Political Resource for the European Union

The use of memory as a political resource by European institutions is not necessarily an example of the creation of a founding myth on the model of the nation state. While the search for a grand narrative is clearly a motivation for the actors, it coexists with strategies aiming at other types of legitimization or that pursue short-term interests. The increased importance of European memory thus does not mean an end to fairy-tale versions of national histories. A European memory can propose alternative projects, drawing on the worlds of national imaginations in order to step beyond or rework them. In this paper, three scenarios observable when European memory is invoked are illustrated in a case study. The first is Europeanization, with European institutions playing a part in developing historical sites of national importance into European sites of memory. The second is the articulation of a specific memory of the process of European integration. This takes the form not only of support to networks of historians specializing in European integration after 1945 but also of the promotion of a grand history of Europe over the longer term. The third is an explicit ambition to endow the EU with a grand narrative of its origins that is autonomous from national histories. The debate on the Christian heritage of Europe begun during the Constitutional Treaty process is a concrete application of this aim.


Hannes Hansen-Magnusson, Jenny Wüstenberg – Commemorating Europe? Forging European Rituals of Remembrance through Anniversaries

The article aims to generate insights for further work on the legitimacy of politics in the European Union. Through an analysis of European newspapers, we examine and compare practices of memorializing the dates of two key events in the history of the European Union: the declaration by Robert Schuman on May 9 1950, and the signing of the Treaties of Rome on March 25 1957. The analysis traces the role of symbols and the unfolding of a collective memory around these dates over a time-span of six decades. The article’s preliminary findings show that the Treaties are increasingly becoming the focus of a ritual of remembrance that can offer an anchor for “European memory. That is, the Treaties are regarded as a focal point of the past that informs the present and future of EU integration through the manner in which they play out in justifications of the policy-process. By contrast and surprisingly the Schuman Speech does not seem to be an important retrospective point of reference as yet, even though it is part of the official set of symbols of the Union. In general, practices of commemoration have become more inclusive over time: in addition to political elites they increasingly involve citizens as well. It remains to be seen, however, whether the events positively resonate with citizens in the long-run.


Camille Mazé – Political Uses of Museums at the European Level. Contributing to the Analysis of the Europeanization of Memory as a Category of Public Action

This paper is based on the findings of a socio-historical and ethnographic study conducted between 2004 and 2010 and focusing on the museums of Europe that have emerged in several West European countries since the late 1980s. These museums, which are devoted in an unprecedented way to the history and culture of Europe and that are built in part for identity purposes, could be seen as agents of European consciousness (Shore, 2000). In these museums, the idea of a European past is amply mobilized. This process is considered crucial to establishing a European memory, which is itself deemed necessary to building a European identity. It is therefore necessary to examine how the museum as a tool is now exploited for making political use of the past beyond the nation state framework and to understand who decides to do so. By analyzing the links between the museums of Europe and the political uses of the past emerging on a European and EU scale (Gensburger 2008; Lavabre 2008), this paper sheds light on processes of the Europeanization of memory as a category of public action.


Laure Neumayer – Overcoming Trianon. The Transformations of Hungarian Nationalism: From Nation-Building Policy to the Protection of Minority Rights in the European Union

Since the end of the Cold War, major European organizations (namely, the European Union and the Council of Europe) have changed their handling of history and implemented memory-related policies that sought to answer numerous demands for the recognition of painful pasts. This paper analyzes the logics of this Europeanization of memory by looking at the mobilizations of political actors who use the positions they occupy simultaneously in several social spaces in order to put memory conflicts on the EU’s agenda. The paper is based on a case study of the 2001 law on the status of Hungarians living in neighboring countries and its recent developments, which illustrates how a bilateral dispute can be turned into a European problem. It also shows that instead of solving this conflict, the mediation of European organizations altered the discursive tools used by the parties involved, thereby fueling a process of consolidation of the controversial legal category of national minority in EU treaties.


Gérôme Truc – Victims of Terrorism as European Heroes: The Range and Limits of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism

This paper is designed as a contribution to the study of relations between European memory policies and processes of identification with Europe. It focuses on the case of the European Day in Memory of Victims of Terrorism, which has been celebrated each year on March 11 since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid. The adoption of this day of commemoration is first analyzed as the result of the opening of a window of opportunity in the post-September 11, 2001, context. The author then studies the specific role played in this context by the rise in generality at the European level of the cause of victims of ETA relayed by elected representatives of the European People’s Party in order to understand why this day seems to comply with the model of the commemoration of the dead for their country. However, the limitations of the implementation of this day outside of Spain attest that this model cannot be established effectively at the European level. Instead of being a memorial ritual striving to maintain the memory of the reactions of solidarity in Europe to the attacks in Madrid in 2004 and thus strengthen European identity, this day of commemoration should be regarded as simply an instrument for a policy aiming at the recognition of the victims.


Areas of Research


Laurent Beauguitte, Clarisse Didelon, Claude Grasland – The EuroBroadMap Project: Visions of Europe around the World. Visions of Europe around the World

Funded by the European Commission as part of the Framework Program for Research and Development, the EuroBroadMap project aims to influence how perceptions of Europe vary around the world mainly thanks to the analysis of mental maps made by thousands of students in 18 countries around the world.


Comparative Readings


Isabelle Guinaudeau – European Elections: A Challenge for Comparative Politics


Critical Readings


Denis Duez – A Political Sociology of the European Union

François Foret – The State, Liberalism, and Christianity: Critique of European Subsidiarity

Josua Gräbener – Europa, Europae. The EU and the Domestic Politics of Welfare State Reforms