By Jordi Guixé i Coromines, Director
After the publication of EUROM’s first book, Past and Power: public policies on memory. Debates, from global to local (Edicions UB, 2016), it is my honour to introduce the first issue of our electronic magazine: Observing Memories. This publication aims to regularly reflect the transnational, multidisciplinary and active work performed by our network following a didactic approach while always meeting the academic rigor. Observing Memories pursues one of our objectives: to foster generational and participatory interaction in memory processes. These processes enrich, strengthen and provide values to the diversity of European citizenry, which passed through the 20th century facing political violence, war conflicts and dictatorships. Despite those handicaps, European citizens were wise enough to build spaces of democracy and common values based on the victories against fascism and injustices, on the fights to achieve wiser and freer societies. To understand memory as a civic tool, as well as an essential part of European policies, is fundamental to face the complex crisis experienced by the continent. A united Europe that may seem ahistorical in its post-war and pacifist foundational values, otherwise necessary to pamper, care for and promote without fail the policies of memory. These common values of education and understanding of the present are found in the processes of representation and past recovery, the dignity of the victims, and the sites of remembrance. These are the reasons behind the creation of our e-magazine: to observe, compare, analyse, interact, learn, create, disclose, act, question. These are necessary practices in the memorial exchange of the 21st Century.
The local becomes global if it is transnational and intertwined with different experiences from very different places, but also from contemporary and many times similar processes.
The in-depth articles at the beginning of the publication have been performed by experts with a wide experience in the critical and analytical thinking of memorial processes. James E. Young describes the interactions among memory and public space through a bold and brilliant relation of Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews and the 9/11 Tribute Museum at the Ground 0 in New York. Moreover, Henry Rousso offers us an interesting reflection on the role that the past plays in the present, and the new challenges involved in the management of memories in the future of Europe. We can also find in this edition an interview to the sociologist Elisabeth Jelin, who offers us a panoramic view of the evolution of the studies on memory and its current status. Through different shorter articles, we also wanted to show and analyse conflictive issues such as the presence of symbols of the German dictatorship in the public space (addressed by the Professor Stefanie Endlich); the building of memorials dedicated to the international brigade members in the United States of America (by Marina Garde); or a personal view on the role of oblivion, memory and history after the catastrophe (Pavel Tychtl). The story and narrative of the witnesses, public politics at a European level, the interaction of art, memory and audio-visual, as well as the contributions of new institutions have been addressed through the interview to Constanze Itzel, Head of the ambitious House of the European History; the reorganization of a Portuguese political prison into the new Aljube Museum, Resistance and Freedom, in an article written by its manager Luis Farinha; or a review on the National Museum of African American History and Culture written by Zina Precht-Rodríguez, a Columbia University student and EUROM fellow in summer 2017. With the digital format, we also want to include audio-visual projects and proposals, such as in this case, the documentary by Carolina Astudillo on torture, “The unspeakable”, together with a review by Laia Quílez. We hope the reader, either expert or novice, will enjoy these pages that consolidate and strengthen our network, a horizontal platform dedicated to the analysis and the permanent activation of politics, projects and memory-related activities. Enjoy the reading!