(Re)Visualizing National History

(Re)Visualizing National History: Museums and National Identities in Europe in the New Millennium

Edited by Robin Ostow
Series: German and European Studies
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 256
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442687257
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  • Book Info
    (Re)Visualizing National History
    Book Description:

    (Re)Visualizing National Historyis a unique and interdisciplinary volume that offers insights on the dilemmas of present-day European culture, manifestations of nationalism in Europe, and the debates surrounding museums as sites for the representation of politics and history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8725-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Museums and National Identities in Europe in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 3-12)

    The splitting of some European countries in the late twentieth century, the reunification of others, and the reshaping of the continent as a polity and as an ideology have made it urgent to reconfigure national discourses, circulate new national values, and develop new histories and images to reflect the changed realities. With individual states now coming under pressure to distance themselves from the destructive nationalism of the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, and to exhibit their commitments to democracy, multiculturalism, rule of law, human rights, peacekeeping and a free market economy, the visual representation of these new values and...

  5. Part One. The Twenty-First Century:
    • 1 Exhibition as Film (pp. 15-44)

      If taken at all seriously either as art form or as a predominantly visual discourse, exhibitions are usually interpreted or framed in terms borrowed from other art practices. This transfer between disciplines and practices is quite useful; it helps museologists conceive of their practices artistically and coherently, while providing critics with conceptual tools to illuminate exhibitions as meaningful wholes in relation to their visitors. For example, in my bookDouble Exposures(1996), I conducted a mostly critical examination of a few famous exhibition sites in museums of worldwide reputation. The key metaphor in that analysis was narrative, conceived as a...

  6. Part Two. Reconfiguring National History:
    • 2 The Terror of the House (pp. 47-89)

      The most famous photographs of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution capture the moment when the soldiers and policemen who had been defending the headquarters of the Budapest Party Committee left the building. Faced with a superior force of revolutionaries, the defenders realized that further defence was hopeless and surrendered their besieged headquarters. On their way out, at the very gates of the building, the defeated were received by deadly machine gun fire.Lifemagazine ran a series of close-up pictures of the killing.

      Lifephotographer George Sadovy’s photo report of the bloodbath became one of the most famous sequences of war...

    • 3 Putting Contested History on Display: The Uses of the Past in Northern Ireland (pp. 90-106)

      Museums are one of the means for a community to interpret its history and present this history to itself and others. By putting the past on display, whether through objects, images, or text, a museum is committing itself to an interpretation. This interpretation is formed not only by what is included in the displays, but also by what is excluded. In Northern Ireland, many would expect the history presented in the local and national museums to include exhibitions on the conflict that has dominated the region over the past thirty years (often referred to as the ‘Troubles’). Instead, that aspect...

  7. Part Three. Restoring National History with International Participation
    • 4 Museums, Multiculturalism, and the Remaking of Postwar Sarajevo (pp. 109-138)

      Much discussion about recreating the multicultural, multiethnic Bosnia and Herzegovina after the 1992–5 war has revolved around the demographic and territorial representations of ethnic groups – that is, around census and map, two crucial institutions of political power that, as Benedict Anderson argued in the ‘Census, Map, Museum’ chapter of hisImagined Communities, help envision and construct modern nations.¹ Yet Anderson’s third keyword – museum – has been overlooked by most observers and scholars in their explorations of the postwar reconstruction, even though the museum, like other national institutions (not only the census and the map, but the archive and the university...

    • 5 Building a Jewish Museum in Germany in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 139-156)

      Postwar West Germany had difficulty dealing with its anti-Semitic past. In the 1950s, there was no public interest in the history of the Nazi period, nor was there interest in dealing with the history of Jews in Germany.The Diary of Anne Frankwas published in German in 1950, but its preface mentions only the ‘fate of a girl during the war,’ and it found only a limited market (Gilman 1988). The first postwar attempts to display Jewish history and culture can be traced to the 1960s. The major Jewish exhibitions in those years were Synagoga, which was organized by...

    • 6 Remusealizing Jewish History in Warsaw: The Privatization and Externalization of Nation Building (pp. 157-180)

      Since the mid-1980s, but particularly in the 1990s, large, state-of-the-art Jewish museums have opened in many of Europe’s capital cities. In Paris and Amsterdam, Jewish collections that had been housed in national and municipal museums have become autonomous institutions and moved into quarters of their own. In Vienna and Berlin, new museums have been built and new collections (and installations) have been acquired.¹ Bennett (1995), Zolberg (1995), and others have pointed to the traditional role of museums in nation building. Anderson (1991) describes museums as sites where states demonstrate their role as guardian of the national heritage.² These Jewish museum...

  8. Part Four. Displaying War, Genocide, and the Nation:
    • 7 Constructing the Canadian War Museum/Constructing the Landscape of a Canadian Identity (pp. 183-199)

      Opened in May 2005, Canada’s new war museum is the most important element in the recent institutionalization of a Canadian identity that is inseparable from the nation’s military history. The scale and location of the new museum, so close to the Parliament Buildings, serve as advocates for the importance of Canada’s military in the national psyche, as do the processes of identification built into the project’s design and the museum’s role in a new ceremonial landscape at the architectural heart of the nation’s capital.

      As a genre, national war museums are predicated on paradoxical premises. War museums are built to...

    • 8 Peter Eisenman’s Design for Berlin’s Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe: A Juror’s Report in Three Parts (pp. 200-214)

      In this three-part essay, I begin by reprinting the report I wrote on behalf of the Findungskommission* commissioned by the Berlin Senate to choose a design for Germany’s national Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. In the second part of this report, I tell the story of the Bundestag’s debate and vote on the memorial, its role in the 1998 elections, and its eventual mandate for realization. In the final section, I reflect on the visitor’s actual experience in the memorial field of stelae, after its May 2005 dedication. In this way, I hope to make it clear that...

  9. Contributors (pp. 215-218)
  10. Index (pp. 219-228)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 229-229)

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