Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COURAGE (Cultural Opposition: Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries)
Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2019-01-31
To achieve these goals, the COURAGE project created an intelligent living database, – the COURAGE Registry – which describes and connects collections of counterculture and non-conformism under State Socialist authoritarian systems in Eastern Europe in the former socialist countries. This continuously growing portal is available online in 16 languages at http://cultural-opposition.eu/registry/. The collections contain artefacts from an array of initiatives that were in some form hostile to or critical of the ideology of the regimes, including (but not limited to) non-conformist art; anti-establishment religious movements; civic initiatives for unofficial education and publication; underground punk and rock music; green movements; and novel spiritual practices. The history of these collections studied in their broader social and cultural context reveals an alternative history of the regime changes, since the civil initiatives to which these collections testify contributed to the collapse of the dictatorships.
The COURAGE Registry promotes the discovery of collections which have been scattered and hidden because official cultural politics under state socialism forbade or barely tolerated any systematic archiving of countercultural or non-conformist phenomena.
Furthermore, the Registry allows archives and museums to map materials similar to their holdings in Europe and launch joint projects across borders and cultures. For example, it lets them organize exhibitions together, exchange duplicate materials to diversify their holdings, or apply for grants together.
Finally, the database contains the provenance and history of collections, the profiles and stories of the people and organizations who contributed to creating and maintaining the collections, and key events in the histories of the collections (e.g. exhibitions based on the holdings). This encourages an approach to history that highlights the contributions of ordinary citizens to cultural opposition against oppressive regimes.
The COURAGE Learning Platform is based on three columns according to the audience it addresses: a pioneering modular syllabus system for higher education; full online courses for secondary schools; and a walking application for city tours for locals and tourists (http://cultural-opposition.eu/learning/).
COURAGE also created country reports on 19 countries and a set of policy recommendations (http://cultural-opposition.eu/activities/policy/ ) based on interactions with local stakeholders and the research conducted over the course of the project.
The Handbook of COURAGE: Cultural Opposition and its Heritage in Eastern Europe was published in November 2018. The handbook provides new perspectives on the history of dissent and cultural non-conformism in the former socialist countries. The handbook provides its reader with a concise synthesis of the existing scholarship and suggests new avenues for further research (http://cultural-opposition.eu/activities/handbook/ ).
COURAGE disseminated information about the Registry and the Learning Platform through initiatives such as an international documentary film festival series (in seven countries), travelling and online exhibitions (in six countries - http://cultural-opposition.eu/courage/exhibition?lang=en) online games (http://cultural-opposition.eu/games/) and local media events in the former socialist countries of Europe.
By covering an array of categories of cultural opposition and widely divergent social milieus across East Central Europe, this project provides a comparative account of cultural dissent with a range hitherto unavailable.
The project will have a long-term sustainable social impact. The registry will remain on the webpage dedicated to it, and parts of the registry will be published as Linked Open Data, enabling third party use and text mining. This Linked Data will be downloadable from the project portal, making the preservation of the results even more robust. The online exhibition will be available on the portal of COURAGE and will be integrated into the permanent portal of the Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences too, both in order to ensure backup and to attract additional, potentially interested audiences. The curators’ mission for the offline exhibition is to integrate it into the collections of one or more permanent museums. The Courage Registry also provides a list of possible objects/collections (featured items) to be exhibited in the permanent exhibition of the House of European History.
The curricula and the educational materials are available on the project partners’ websites (in addition to the COURAGE website) and are advertised widely among interested groups all over Europe.