Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe (UNREST)

Project details:

Title: Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe - UNREST

This research project is funded by European Commission. Research and Innovation Framework Programme - H2020 - REFLECTIVE SOCIETY- 2015

Ref.: 693523

Execution dates: 1-4-2016 to 31-3- 2019

Execution centre: Institute of Language, Literature & Anthropology & Institute of Philosophy, Centre for Human and Social Sciences, Madrid, CSIC (Spain).

Project financing: 2.489.652 €

Tabs group


UNREST addresses Europe’s pressing memory problem. The European Union derives a great deal of legitimacy from its foundational myth of transnational reconciliation. It has consistently championed a consensual approach to traumatic memory reaching from the abyss of the World Wars and the Holocaust to post-war peace and prosperity. But the storyline is losing its lustre. All across Europe, populist and nationalist movements are successfully challenging the official EU narrative. They use the heritage of war and violence to push conventional, confrontational notions of collective belonging – with very dangerous consequences. Social cohesion is fraying and ethnic tensions are on the rise. Plus, since most of this happens well within the rules of the democratic process, the EU is watching helplessly, rendered impotent by a sympathetic but unengaging cultural memory. UNREST proposes to fill the perilous vacuum between top-down cosmopolitan EU memory and bottom-up, antagonistic right-wing memory. UNREST pursues a third memory way, which acknowledges and engages with widespread memory discontent without losing sight of fundamental EU ideals. We call this third way agonistic memory. It designates a new mode of remembrance that embraces political conflict as an opportunity for emotional and ethical growth. For this purpose, UNREST combines ground-breaking theoretical reasoning with the empirical study of existing memory cultures and the implementation and rigorous testing of innovative memory practices.

The two empirical cases under study in UNREST are:

(a) a comparative analysis of exhumations of mass graves from different European conflicts in Spain, Poland and Bosnia, coordinated by CSIC; and

(b) comparative analysis of war museums in different European countries, coordinated by the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Apart from the academic output and from building educational and training materials and other outreach products, UNREST will sponsor a final museum exhibition at the Ruhr Museum and a theater play by Micomicón, reflecing the project's results.