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Through the Lens of Remembrance


International Youth Camp

Through the Lens of Remembrance
Belgrade 16th-30th August 2010

Documentary about the Camp you can see here


Europe could be, inter alia, considered as a crossroad of different cultures of memory and of different models of dealing with the conflict past and to it related trauma. Consequently, the identification and alignment of the common places of memory and experience of history are, although subject to different interpretations, of a great importance for the structuring of the common culture of memory at the local, national or regional level and above all at the level of European society.

In Germany and France the peace is often considered as normality and especially among young people the war is not seen as a European phenomenon. Since 1950, the political and economical cooperation in the European Union has contributed to the longest period of peace in the history of Europe. France and Germany has shown very great efforts in reconciliation. The European Union is there taken for granted. In Serbia this is not the case, reconciliation has even not began. In the case of Belgrade, the war has finished not so long time ago, not so far away, and it is still present in the urban landscape and in the citizens’ minds. The project addresses exactly this "closeness" to the "undesirable past".

Considering the local context where the issues of very dramatic and conflict on resent past are until know mostly neglected in any official curricula, from school up to university level, there is an urgent need to talk not only about what has happened, but how to accept it and how to present it on a current way towards the integration into European society. On the other hand this past belongs also to Europe, and young Europeans from Germany and France should also get to know that this memory is one part of the memory of culture on broader European level, as well.

The project is based on the assumption that providing young people opportunities to participate and make an active contribution to public dialogue about the important social issues, such as the culture of memory, the necessity of a better knowledge and critical attitude towards the past, and deconstruction of existing stereotypes and prejudices in relation to the rest of Europe, it can encourage them to identify with a community whose collective identity they share and also to efficiently integrate into the emerging European society.

Through the Lens of Remembrance - »

International youth camp is an initiative that is the result of cooperation between organizations from Germany (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., Berlin), France (Center Européen Robert Schuman, Metz) and Serbia (Kulturklammer - Center for cultural interaction, Belgrade). This youth project seeks to bring young people from both EU Member States and EU neighbouring countries together. The camp is designed so that its program’s content meets the three important principles: the educational nature, interdisciplinary methodology and thematic framework based on networking, intercultural dialogue and cultural exchange of young people from Serbia, Germany and France.

The project is focused on youth aged 18 to 25 years from three countries (France, Germany and Serbia). The main objective of the project is to contribute to the efforts and the need of contemporary society to critically deal with the past in order to reduce conflict potential of the corresponding culture of memory and as a consequence achieve conditions for better common future in Europe. Besides that, an important topic of the project will be the enlargement of the European Union and the integration of the Balkan states.

The project is based on the assumption that providing young people with opportunities to participate and make an active contribution to public dialogue on important social issues, such as the culture of memory, it can encourage identification with a community they belong to, as well as their efficient integration into the development processes of emerging European society.

Program_The program of the camp provides an interdisciplinary approach in the reconsideration of history and the past. It will be realized in the form of an open dialogue, exchange of opinions and experiences and through the artistic intervention in the very places of collective memory.

The issue of collective memory (forgetfulness), its structures and mechanisms will be processed in a broader thematic framework, which will include: introduction of the general concept of cultural memory, analysis of different models of the overcoming of conflicting past and of the construction of collective memory and identity, and establishing individual and collective awareness towards a common past and heritage as a basic condition of healthy and promising future. This will enable the initiation of a number of current issues, crucial for further emerging of European society. The theme "Europe today" will be dedicated to a particular segment of the program and within it participants will get the opportunity to learn and state their views and thoughts on various socio-cultural aspects of contemporary Europe.

The main questions to be discussed are: What historical and political links exist between Serbia, Macedonia, France and Germany? What happened in Belgrade during the Second World War? Where is the evidence found from the recent history of the city? Is the war nowadays far away from us? Which role has played the reconciliation in the construction of the European Union? How could the European Union protect us from new wars?

Lectures, workshops and visit to relevant institutions should provide participants a concrete theoretical and practical knowledge and skills relevant to the main topic, but also allow them to express their own experiences and perceptions on the issue. Through open discussions and exchange of opinions about the modern historical narratives and structures of cultural memory in European countries, they should strive to reach conclusions about the possible ways to critical assessment of the past and deconstruction of prejudices, myths and stereotypes.

Through the visit to different cultural and historical institutions of Belgrade, young people will have opportunity to enter deeper in contact with a local past and considerably to decide on which of a few issues with local and European values they would like to work in a group and prepare an interpretation of it to be filmed as a final result of the project. In this process thy will necessarily  get into closer contact with the local people, witnesses of certain events or periods of the Serbian and regional history, or even to very common people – citizens of Belgrade.

During the film workshops participants will be given a necessary knowledge how to record a short documentary sequence/video work, which will enable them, working in the groups, to communicate their ideas through the lens of camera. The short films, as the final result of the international youth camp, will represent a few possible interpretations of the material traces of different layers of collective memory and at the same time express the vision of participants on topics processed during the camp. In addition, the film will serve as one of the forms of dissemination of results and conclusions to which the participants will come during the international camp, but also as a didactic tool, available to all interested parts: schools, educational and cultural institutions and organizations, etc. 

The whole project, as well as all segments of the program of the youth camp (i.e. lectures/presentations, workshops, practical work on relevant localities, side entertainment activities), and particularly thematic evenings dedicated to presentation of cultures of all participating countries, through music, video, preparation of authentic food, are aimed at promotion of cultural diversity and awareness raising on other cultures since they will enable participants to present different aspects of the culture of the country of their origin but also to learn about other participants’ cultures, to better comprehend differences and discover commonalities.

Lecturers / instructors / leaders of the group_will be relevant experts of different profiles, artists, cultural activists and youth activists from Germany, France and Serbia.

Participants of the camp_ are young people (18 to 25 years) from Germany, France and Serbia, who have shown the greatest interest and motivation for participation in the open call. Animation and selection of participants has been conducted in each of the countries participating in the project, while the group is formed from approximately equal number of participants from each of these countries.

Organisers of the Camp: Kulturklammer-centre for cultural interactions, Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., Centre Europeen Robert Schuman | Support: Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, Foundations Gedenken und Frieden and Dr. Günter und Anna-Elisabeth Geisler, ERSTE Bank a.d. Novi Sad, Museum of Yugoslav History, Secretariat for Transport of the City of Belgrade - Directorate for Public Transport, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of the Republic of Serbia.

For successful realisation of the project  Through the Lens of Remembrance Kulturklammer-centre for cultural interactions won the prize Belgrade Stars 2010 awarded by the Agency for European integrations and cooperation with civil society organizations of the City of Belgrade. The project is awarded in the category of cultural heritage protection among other projects financed within open calls of the City of Belgrade during 2010.

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