1 February 2010 was the official starting date for the research project Eunamus – Identity Politics, the Uses of the Past and the European Citizen. Eunamus celebrates the project’s first birthday by opening this blog.
Eunamus already has a website and a regularly distributed Newsletter. Why then start a blog? Well, the most important aim of this blog is to connect to those of you out there who have a burning interest in the future of national museums, the uses of the past and identity in Europe and elsewhere. The hope is that this blog will create new opportunities for discussion and networking. News will be out quicker and hopefully in a more personal note.
This blog then, will be part of an enhanced effort to dialog with people outside the academy as well as researchers. A blog no way guarantees that dialogues will happen, but it surely increases the possibilities. It’s time for Eunamus 2.0
Blogs should be focused. The focus here is on national museums and how they are approached from different angles by researchers, cultural politicians and citizens. Me and my colleagues in the project will report from fieldwork, conferences and other events and reflect upon cultural policy issues.
Very soon you will find links to other blogs relevant to museum research and cultural policy here. Later on, I plan to make more use of Eunamus’ Facebook group, to connect to citizens interested enough in national museums to become their friends on Facebook. Eunamus will also produce wikis on master narratives and European heritage conflicts.
Today museums matter. As I was writing this blog post, I heard on the televisions news that looters had broke into the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, to vandalise and to loot. But there was more news, some citizens on the streets had taken time from protesting against the regime to protect the exhibitions and the building. When following the trail of information from Swedish state television to CNN and Al Jazeera, I found that these major news channels had devoted web space to worries about heritage looting. While Al Jazeera reported in a sort of neutral tone on soldiers securing the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities from looting and vandalism, and the risks of the building to be damaged due to its location in the midst of the protests, articles on CNN were far more emotional. They were constructed around a selection of citations from interviews, twitter feeds, websites and Facebook entries by heritage specialists and Egyptologists. When reading their words and the interpretations that were made out of them, I was struck by the symbolic value that was attached to heritage. How it was made to define Egyptian identity, but also to connect people across borders. The more or less explicit message in the CNN pieces was: heritage from this area not only concerns the Egyptians but everybody in the (Western part of the) world.
Posted by Bodil Axelsson, dissemination and dialogs for Eunamus