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‘Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe — CoHERE’

‘Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe — CoHERE’

The CoHERE project seeks to identify, understand and valorise European heritages, engaging with their socio-political and cultural significance and their potential for developing communitarian identities. CoHERE addresses an intensifying EU Crisis through a study of relations between identities and representations and performances of history. It explores the ways in which heritages can be used for division and isolation, or to find common ground and ‘encourage modern visions and uses of its past.’ The research covers a carefully selected range of European territories and realities comparatively and in depth; it focuses on heritage practices in official and non-official spheres and engages with various cultural forms, from the living arts to museum displays, food culture, education, protest, commemorations and online/digital practice, among others. CoHERE is funded through Horizon 2020, and responds to the Reflective Societies programme.

The project involved 6 work packages. The data produced by the CoHERE project was collected using mixed ethnographic methods, including observation, semi-structured interviews, audience surveys, focus groups and in- depth interviews, complemented by content analysis of textual and audio-visual documents, onsite analysis of museums/sites or other initiatives, textual analysis of heritage tourism blogs and online photographs.

The CoHERE community in Zenodo incorporates data from CoHERE research activity that has been identified as suitable for depositing in a public archive.  

The CoHERE project seeks to identify, understand and valorise European heritages, engaging with their socio-political and cultural significance and their potential for developing communitarian identities. CoHERE addresses an intensifying EU Crisis through a study of relations between identities and representations and performances of history. It explores the ways in which heritages can be used for division and isolation, or to find common ground and ‘encourage modern visions and uses of its past.’ The research covers a carefully selected range of European territories and realities comparatively and in depth; it focuses on heritage practices in official and non-official spheres and engages with various cultural forms, from the living arts to museum displays, food culture, education, protest, commemorations and online/digital practice, among others. CoHERE is funded through Horizon 2020, and responds to the Reflective Societies programme.

The project involved 6 work packages:

WP1 - Productions and omissions of European heritage: This provides a critical foundation for CoHERE as a whole, interrogating different meanings of heritage, historical constructions and representations of Europe, formative histories for European identities that are neglected or hidden because of political circumstances, and non-official heritage.

WP2 - The use of past in political discourse and the representation of Islam in European museums: The use of past in political discourse and the representation of Islam in European museums investigates public/popular discourses and dominant understandings of a homogeneous ‘European heritage’ and the exclusion of groups such as minorities from a stronger inclusion into European society. The WP focuses on the position of ‘Others’ within or outwith European heritages and identities, attending particularly to the place and perception of Islam and to legacies of colonialism in contemporary European societies.

WP3 - Cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe: Cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe focuses on cultural traditions as significant factors that form local, regional, national and European identities and the ways in which cultural communities and policy makers develop cultural tradition, maintain intangible cultural heritage and ensure its sustainability for future generations. The WP engages particularly with language, tourism, music and festivals within heritage contexts.

WP4 - Digital heritage dialogue[s]: the role of digitally-enabled conversations in constructing heritage identities in Europe: This engages with digital design methodologies to investigate heritage conversations online and on-site (i.e. in a museum/heritage setting and beyond), and to craft opportunities for talk/dialogue within exhibition and heritage settings to develop intercultural dialogue. The WP explores the potential of existing and future digital technologies (e.g. web- and mobile-based, alongside experimental bespoke tools for use in museums and sites) to provide deeper understandings of European heritage alongside reflexive identities and inclusive senses of belonging.

WP5 - Education, heritage and identities: This develops best practices in the production and transmission of European heritages and identities within two sectors that face challenges in an age of immigration and globalization, namely education and cultural heritage production. It explores how European identity is shaped through formal and informal learning situations both in and outside the classroom with the purpose of enhancing school curricula and informal learning at heritage sites by integrating innovative technologies and including multicultural perspectives.

WP6 - Food as Heritage: This focuses on food as a fundamental element of heritage, and a very important one in times of crisis as a means of exploring identities. By adding culinary traditions to other forms of heritage, WP6 establishes an innovative synergy and adds value to the project by bringing together the cultural construction and invention of traditions, social practices, commercial practice, tourism, public policies and marketing strategies. The WP proposes food heritage as a basis for inclusive actions toward European citizens as well as immigrants who have not received citizen status.