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Transition Dialogue: How to talk about the past and present?
ln 2019 in parts of Europe we are marking 30 years since the beginning of transition from communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall. ln two years from now in yet other parts of Eastern Europe we will mark the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the war torn collapse of former Yugoslavia. Witnesses and drivers of those events are still actively shaping the social, political and cultural life.
Meanwhile a generation has come of age that has no direct memory neither of communism nor of transition. Their knowledge and perceptions of this recent past is mostly based on stories of the older generations and on politicized and instrumentalized discourses. Against this background and as practitioners of history and civic education, we aim at taking a closer look at two of the areas that mostly contribute to the formation of knowledge and perceptions of that recent past – the public discourse and teaching of transition.
We aim at working:
- nationally (in a number of partner countries),
- locally (in each of the countries outside of the large cities into the rural areas) and
- internationally (exchange, share knowledge and compare our findings).
At the end of this process, we hope to have a more multifaceted and nuanced understanding of the impact of transition on societies in Eastern Europe and how history and civic education can be used to help deal with it. Some of the key questions are whether the discourse incorporates the plurality of perspective and voices and what can be done to accommodate the diversity of viewpoints. What is the role of international exchange for a better understanding of the national context? What formats and methods can be used to mainstream the topic and engage a wider audience in a more diverse conversation?
In order to answer them the project works on two levels:
- Within the public discourse through a variety of open events, discussions and methods in seven countries
- Within formal and non-formal education, comparing how transition is being taught and what are the prevalent narratives in seven countries.
This part of the work includes analysis of school curricula and textbooks to find out how transition is taught and framed in formal educational institutions.