The 4th workshop of the YOUWB Project was hosted in Paris by our partners, Patrimoine Sans Frontiers, at the begging of April 2022. In the Paris workshop, we intended to better understand, and question, the notions of ‘national identities’ and ‘collective memory’ in an enlarged Europe, through the lens of dissonant heritage. We started this conference with Pr. Xavier Greffe presents the community requirements of the European Union and the lack of cultural considerations in them – which creates a double debate among the Member States and within the countries themselves. At the end of his intervention, Pr. Greffe stated that bottom-up approaches to European cultural heritage should be preferred to top-down visions. After which, Pr. Christine Cadot, elaborated on the notion of ‘European narratives’, and the almost wasted effort to elaborate ‘common narratives’, when these discourses mostly serve national agendas.

Following these conversations on ‘collective memories’ and ‘identities’, Ms. Sophie Blanc and Ms. Laeticia Chabannes broaden the conversation by presenting concrete projects in which the identity of individuals is taken into account – identities coming from inside and outside the European continent. The PeP (Patrimoine en Partage) project shows that cultural heritage is essential in building the individual identities of newcomers in France, while the podcast Europe and Sentiments demonstrates how controversial it is, for individuals, to define their own identity in a rapidly changing context, like the one of the European continent.

In the afternoon, the debate focused more on the theme of dissonant heritage in the Balkans and, and how built heritage, architecture, and the urban landscape are often exploited when defining national identities. In his presentation, M. Patrick Leech showed that dissonant heritage – like the architecture of totalitarian regimes –, can help bring countries together and build a shared understanding of some European narratives. Following this, Dr. Fabien Bellat, using the example of Skopje, showed that the urban landscape and its cultural heritage can become the place where identity struggles take place, and how it is used in the construction – or (re)construction – of national agendas. The debate at the end of the conversation pointed out how dissonant heritage can be a very sensitive subject that needs to be understood in context.

Following this, Dr. Oana Tiganea and Iona Iosa, through the example of Romania, explained why new generations can be sometimes misled in the perception of communism due to a lack of interpretation of the legacy left by the Romanian totalitarian regimes, while the association Pauza, with its movie A MOUNTAIN ODDITY, nicely showed that the architectures of these regimes can be re-employed in an artistic manner, thus opening the door to creating another kind of narratives.

Considering all the elements and examples mentioned above, at the end of the workshop the roundtable discussion intended to answer the following question:

  • Can dissonant heritage be used to bring together European countries, and promote ‘European values’ in the elaboration of European narratives?

Full Programme of 4th Workshop in Paris, 01-3 April 2022

“Youth involvement in a constructive dialogue: Communist Past in Contemporary Western Balkans” (YOU-WB) project is supported by European Union in the framework of Europe for Citizens, European Remembrance strand, and led by the Center for Comparative and International Studies. SCiDEV is a project partner and is in charge of communication and visibility of the project and engagement of stakeholders.