The importance of Historical Conscience for a creative return to the future: Researching collaboratively the liberation of Thessaloniki as a case example for liberation by our modern ‘enemies and demons’
The importance of Historical Conscience for a creative return to the future (Cennet Engin-Demir)
THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORICAL CONSCIENCE FOR A CREATIVERETURN TO THE FUTURE: RESEARCHING COLLABORATIVELY THELIBERATION OF THESSALONIKI AS A CASE EXAMPLE FOR LIBERATION BYOUR MODERN ‘ENEMIES AND DEMONS’ Dimitris Kiritsis, Franco di Cataldo Cennet Engin-Demir
THE FORMATION OF SOCIETY AS A RESULT OF CITIZENS’HISTORICAL CONSCIENCE The way how a particular society views its history reflects the fact that how this society functions in the present situation and how it is oriented to its own future.
HISTORY The term ‘history’ is often used to describe representations of the past that appear in written or narrative form, a primary medium through which states, elites or dominant groups take over linear time and declare official chronologies as master narratives (Titarenko, 2008: 33).
HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE Historical knowledge can be categorized as an aggregate of ideas, views, concepts, feelings and sentiments that reflect the perception and evaluation of the past in all the variety inherent in and characteristics of society as a whole. (Toshchenko, 2011, p. 5). Only after learning the past we can understand what was good and what was wrong there. In the future, it will be necessary to reasses the past again as it is a non-stop process of construction and reconstruction of the history with the help of the memory within political, spiritual and psychological context of the present day (Titarenko, 2008).
HISTORICAL MEMORY There is no national history, if the nation does not know it. Historical facts or events are not significant and visible, if they are not kept in the memory of the nation. Historical knowledge exist to the point of our interest to it and to our ability to connect this history with the present- day life. In general, the nation can always navigate its future on the basis of its past through evaluationg, reflecting and re-thinking. That is why historical memory helps to keep the past, involve the past into the present life and receive some historical lessons from rethinking it.
HISTORICAL MEMORY Historical memory of a nation is directly connected with the socio-cultural identity and therefore it is connected with the national identity as the national identity is based on the national culture such as language, folklore, myths and stereotypes. Historical memory is often focused on the things that can be referred as historical heritage. Historical heritage can be presented in several forms: material objects such as building monuments, any objects of the past; folklore such as myths, fairy tales and proverbs; language and communication and cultural space where all the above- mentioned objects are situated (Titarenko, 2008: 35).
COLLECTIVE MEMORY There are means of remembering the past and shaping historical memory: children’s books, museums, memorials and historical sites. The way in which current politics and existing collective memories influence the stories told in the children’s books, at the museums and in historical sites and how the story told at one site can change over time.
COLLECTIVE MEMORY Collective memories work much the same way as historical memories, that is they foster and define group identities, tell a group of people where they have come from, who they are and how they should act in the present and future (Gillis, 1994). Collective memory gets passed on through schools, from parents to children and in public commemorations, and its implications are enormous. Each of these modes of representation (historical memory and collective memory) offer different possibilities for how conflicts between neighbouring countries should be remembered.
HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS Historical consciousness can be described as the ability to recognize the irregular quality of an event that is happening now; in other words to see the event with the eyes of future generations. The esense of historical consciousness lies not in merely remembering and transmitting the past but in the way we see the present (Schieder, 1978: 1). Thus, historical consciousness uses the knowledge of what happened in the past and has become history, as an element in shaping the thoughts and actions that will determine the future.
TEACHING HISTORY Schools play an important role in shaping historical memory and historical consciousness because they are often the first places that children learn about important historical events. Teaching history should aim at helping students to understand the present existing social, political, religious and economic conditions of the people (Trofanenko, 2008). Through learning history students need to develop historical consciousness. That is, they need to learn ways of thinking about the past that will help them to orientate themselves in time, bringing past, present and future into a relation that enables them to cope with living their lives as temporal beings.
TEACHING HISTORY Historical knowledge should not be treated as ‘a fixed, static, given matter of human consciousness and cognition, but as a dynamic process’ (Rüsen, 1990: 53 cited in Lee, 2004, p. 4). Therefore historical consciousness is not static, but something that develop over time mostly through education at schools. Traditional narratives in teaching of history need to be questioned and counter-stories need to be produced. By means of counter-stories students will say no to pre-given temporal orientations to their lives. These counter-stories provide a critique of moral values displaying them as having immoral origins or consequences (Sexias, 2004). To avoid the narrow context of chronicle, i.e. the plain chronical listing of events, we need to reconstruct the past by interpreting it with a critical eye and mind. In the end different narratives will emerge most times incongruent and most times antogonistic if not downright opposite (Giordano, 2008: 12).
THE STUDY The study is focused on tracing the opinions, experiences and attitudes of young Greek, Turkish and Italian students towards the importance of the knowledge of History and the role of the subject of History for the development of a better society and for a creative return to the future. As mentioned earlier historical memory is a collective memory but each individual has his/her own perception of historical facts. Therefore, getting the ideas of students from different nations will help us to understand history teaching in these countries.