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European national museums: Identity politics, the uses of the past and the European citizen


National museums are authoritative spaces for display and negotiation of community and citizenship. Through collecting and creating repositories of scientific, historic and aesthetic objects choices are made that protect and narrate ideas of virtues, unicity and place in the wider world. Explicitly and implicitly territorial identities are negotiated and related both to ideas in the tradition of universalistic enlightenment and through its selection and narration presenting formative ideas of who belongs to what political and cultural entity, why and with what consequences. This is done by negotiating different claims on what citizenship means, the relationship with competing political projects on sub-national and supra-national levels, and by calling on universalistic values and virtues as basis of claimed unicity and value of community, belonging and pride. EuNaMus explore the creation and power of the heritage of European national museums to the world, Europe and its states as an unsurpassable institution in contemporary society. In order to shape cultural policy for an expanding European Union the understanding of one of its most enduring institutions for creating and contesting political identities is necessary. The focus is on understanding the conditions for using the past in negotiations that recreate citizenship, and on the understanding of layers of territorial belonging beyond the actual nation-state. The research is pursued through multi-disciplinary collaboration between eight leading institutions and a series of work packages studying institutional path dependencies, the handling of conflicts, modes of representation, cultural policy and visitors experiences in national museums. Understanding the cultural force of national museums will provide citizens, professionals and policy makers with reflexive tools to better communicate and create a common understanding of diversity and community in developing cultural underpinning for democratic governance.

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Linköping University
EU contribution
€ 962 460,00
581 83 Linköping

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Peter åbrodd (Mr.)
Total cost
No data

Participants (7)