More on ACUME

Rationale Sub-Porjects - Pedagogical and Didactical Approaches - Direct Beneficiaries

Cultural Memory’ in European Countries: An Interdisciplinary Approach (ACUME) is a European Thematic Network, now at its third year of activities, enriched by the previous experience that some of the proposing partners had acquired through the European Thematic Network COTEPRA.  ACUME has been designed with the same interdisciplinary approach, but with an independent and original focus aimed at introducing the study of ‘cultural memory’ in the European universities curricula: the trans-European study of ‘cultural memory’ is seen, in fact, as a strategic goal in order to preserve and respect local and national identities while co-operating to the making of a communal European educational system. Therefore, the intention has been that of bringing together scholars and experts belonging to various European Countries, as well as to the Associated and EEA Countries, in order to encourage a deeper understanding of the very idea of ‘cultural memory’ and to co-operate to a broader curricula innovation, in the spirit of the guidelines established in Bologna, Prague and the recent Berlin forums of education. The importance of focusing on this major issue is proven by the fact that ACUME Networks groups partners from almost all European Countries, who have answered positively and who have jointly contributed to design this new project. In the first year of activities, their participation has been fundamental to work out operative work-plans and forums; similarly, at present their active contribution is enabling to  carry out all activities scheduled and developed for the second year of this Thematic Network. In particular, our partners from Eastern Europe have become more and more involved in the making and development of our activities.

            The working hypothesis of this project is that the investigation of the idea of ‘cultural memory’ in the various European countries is a very important issue pervading and affecting the cultural education of old and young European generations; also, it can be conceived as a priority step towards the making of a new European identity, built upon common and shared values, but in the full respect of local identities and traditions. The need to question European cultural history seems to be cogent since, in recent times, it has also been the object of ideological manipulations which have brought to dangerous nationalist revanschisms in Europe (i.e. the Balkans, Spain, Ireland, Italy, etc.). Cultural memory is something closely linked to national identity and this is why the objective of our research is not so much to embalm memory, but rather to pursue a critical approach to memory; this means that all the involved partners aim to investigate how, within the history of the various countries, there has always been a very close link between memory and power: remembering means to have a critical perspective on the past. For all these reasons, our Thematic Network questions the idea of cultural memory and fully investigates all the inevitably related cultural (and historical) oblivions.

Also, a true understanding and definition of ‘Cultural Memory’ can enable young people living in the various European nations to retrieve their own cultural history, which, unfortunately, is not often part of traditional school programs and text-books. At the end of the third year of activities, partners co-operating in this Thematic Network could work out a critical comparison of the various syllabi and school-texts, so to underline which historical and cultural facts have been either denied or emphasised (i.e. in the case of totalitarian regimes). Similarly, partners could question the very idea of ‘revisionism’ (linked to both historical/cultural/artistic events/movements and to ‘uneasy’ historical characters), which underpins most of the critical and historical approaches today. Therefore, by ‘Cultural Memory’, we mean here a complex and articulated heritage that, in time, each nation has created in order to mould its own identity, but which is not always ‘officially’ recognised, investigated, studied, confronted. In our view, “Cultural Memory” is therefore built upon two different, yet complementary aspects: remembrance (memory) and oblivion (amnesia). For each nation there are, in fact, historical events which have played a fundamental role in the shaping of national identity and that are collectively remembered and celebrated. On the other hand, for each nation there are historical events which, due to political and ideological reasons, continue to constitute a sort of national emotional burden, a real trauma which, consciously or unconsciously, is too often ‘removed’ and ‘forgotten’.

What constitutes a fundamental aspect of this Thematic Network is the fact that Partners, while carrying out their various activities and research, will also carry out a survey of local situations and realities (field research); this will imply a strong co-operation among European generations which will be encouraged to meet and confront, by means of interviews, gathering of materials (photographs, films, documents, etc.) and similar. This will lead to the creation of an archive of European Cultural Memory/Memories, to be displayed online on the ACUME WebSite

Given the complexity underpinning the very idea of ‘cultural memory’, this project is characterised by an interdisciplinary methodology, and by a comparative approach. A great relevance is given to the theoretical concept of ‘Memory’ in relation to the complex issue of ‘Culture’, in each European country. This theoretical background is supported by practical investigations of various materials (i.e. books, archives, media, etc.). The involved areas of research and teaching are: history of ideas; philosophy; literature and translation studies; anthropology (folklore and ethnographic studies) and social sciences; cultural studies (cinema, media, pop-cult) and gender studies; visual arts. This approach is indeed innovative, as it encourages transversal co-operation among European scholars of different disciplines, something which is still very rare and uncommon in European Universities and Higher Education pedagogy. Partners are therefore questioning the idea of disciplinary boundaries as per traditional curricula, and are promoting a more complex European educational perspective on the idea of ‘Cultural Memory’.

Sub-Projects

The European Thematic network ACUME includes five areas of research which enable to investigate the idea of ‘Cultural Memory’ from various perspectives. In detail:

Sub-Project 1 – Cultural Amnesia

Sub-Project  2 – Bearing Witness

Sub-Project  3 – Memory and Places

Sub-Project  4 – Oral and Written History

Sub-Project  5 – Foundation Text and Mythologies

All the above listed sub-projects interact and share results and works in progress. Together, they are contributing to promote a European take on the idea of ‘Cultural memory’, therefore encouraging the development of new pedagogical and didactic approaches which will help to define a European dimension without denying local identities/realities. Also, partners in the various sub-projects cooperate in the organisation of communal workshops and meeting to work out and question the very idea of cultural memory; this joint-effort aims to present and design new teaching and research curricula to be encouraged and promoted at a university level in European Countries. All partners are encouraging forms of collaboration not only among Universities, but also among socio-economic partners, local and national agencies for education, museum networks and vocational centres.
In addition, partners co-operating in this project intend: to encourage active involvement of students in the discussion of new university curricula; to assess curricula innovation, to develop new educational strategies at a  European level; to promote the production of new teaching/study material related to the theme of cultural memory (i.e. New Teaching Modules, both traditional and ODL based, therefore encouraging a new curricula design for various levels of University degrees, from BA to Master, to Ph.D; production of WebPages on the theme of ‘Cultural Memory’; creation of newsgroup and permanent forums on ‘Cultural Memory’; production of bibliographical indexes and e-indexes /resource books on ‘Cultural Memory’; production of new teaching and research materials on ‘Cultural Memory’, both in the form of books and e-outputs; production of Cd-Rom, DVD or hyper-texts on the theme of ‘Cultural memory’; production of new archives on the theme of ‘Cultural memory’, including audio-video archives, films, multimedia, etc.)

Pedagogical and Didactical Approaches

At a more general level, the Thematic Network ACUME encourages co-operation with other existing ETNP, in order to contribute to the making of communal network of universities, institutions and agencies addressing education trans-nationally, integrating the various areas of research, sharing results and works in progress. For instance, links have been established with ETNP Athena (Women’s Studies, coordinating institution: University of Utrecht), and with ETNP CLIOHNET (History and Philosophy, coordinating institution: University of Pisa). Similarly, ACUME intends to work in co-operation with the Tuning project, by establishing a framework of expertise which could integrate the already existing areas of research/investigations.
One of the main target is to implement interdisciplinary and interfaculty methodologies and to encourage ODL teaching, so to favour European interchanges and bridge the gap between the various European educational systems. ODL would also facilitate disabled students and people who live in geographical peripheral areas to follow lectures and actively participate in the teaching/learning experience. One of the main scopes of this cross-cultural interchange is to educate teachers and students to ethnic diversity and to combat racism by creating a multicultural approach to teaching and learning.
In addition, all partners are deeply convinced that among the major ‘methodological’ goals of this ETNP there must be the active involvement of students in the discussion concerning new university curricula. Therefore, partner universities are encouraging the participation of students, especially graduated ones (PhD and post-doctoral students), in the design and organisation of the various activities (workshops, seminars, research/teaching projects). Also, what constitutes a fundamental aspect of ACUME ETNP is the fact that partners, while carrying out their various activities, carry out also a survey of local situations and realities (field research). This implies a strong co-operation among European generations which are therefore encouraged to meet and confront, by means of interviews, gathering of materials and similar.

Direct Beneficiaries.

The first and direct beneficiary are both the students and the scholars belonging to partner universities, that all together form a relevant group of European citizens, living in almost all European Countries. They are encouraged to investigate a fundamental topic within a European perspective, therefore adopting a new European ‘frame of mind’ in the definition of cultural, social and educational targets, even though starting from national and local experiences and heritage. At the same time partners are encouraging co-operation with other institutions (i.e. local and national educational agencies, vocational centres, museum networks) in order to establish a broader operative network so to have a major impact on both European and local realities. The material produced by ACUME ETNP, in fact, can be easily employed by a wide series of educational and vocational agencies across Europe, as well as by Museums and Municipalities in order to promote a new idea o ‘Cultural Memory’, as well as to promote cultural events encouraging a mutual understanding and knowledge among European Countries.

 

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