CoHERE-Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe

The Critical Heritages (CoHERE) project, funded by the Horizon programme,  was the largest and most comprehensive study to date to explore the differences in how people, groups and institutions across Europe use the past to create a sense of belonging or non-belonging. The CoHERE project aimed to identify, understand and valorise European heritages. It explored their social, political and cultural significance what they mean for people’s identities in Europe. We are interested in how and why traditions and stories about the past are presented by individuals, social groups and institutions in Europe. We are researching this across many different countries and cultural practices, from music, museums and cultural policy to language, historical re-enactment, commemorations and food. The project influenced cultural policy and helped museums, heritage and cultural organisations to develop new ways of working that help people to understand different heritages and identities in Europe. It also led to academic publications, public exhibitions, films and public events.

In CoHERE, CIID explored the role of digitally enabled conversations in constructing heritage identities in Europe. In particular, we examined how creative-practice digital interventions foster and sustain conversations / dialogues among museum, gallery and heritage visitors/users; we investigated how conversations and alternative models of interpersonal engagement through digital means can provide heritage institutions and communities with new means to establish conversations around sensitive topics (e.g. migration, identity, belonging etc.); and we explored how dialogic digital design methodologies can help us to imagine European heritage futures.

Our part of the project was the result of a deep partnership with our partners at Newcastle University, and focused on difficult dialogues in public spaces such as museums. We worked on creating mechanisms, spaces and experiences that generate and nurture dialogue – and the work was noted in “Strategy&Research”, “Design Education”, and “Interaction Design” from Core77 and IXDA.

Here is some of the work that went into the project. All of the software and design is open-source. “ERDI”, “The New Europe”, “Future Erasure”, “Borders”.

We finished the project with contributing to an edited volume that will be published in the coming year, as well as designing an open tool, “Digital-Erdi”, for professionals trying to generate dialogue in their exhibit or workshop spaces about different difficult heritage topics – and a framework for “futurescaping in heritage”.

We have presented the work over the past few years at conferences at the “POLIN Museum”, the “Network Effect” in Rijeka, Croatia and many more with our partners from Newcastle University.

We ran workshops across the globe, from the Netherlands to China, designed different dialogic devices, launched exhibitions, established new connections and most importantly pushed our boundaries and learned a lot.

PARTNERS

  • University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (United Kingdom)
  • Aarhus Universitet (Denmark)
  • Universiteit Van Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Ethniko Kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon (Greece)
  • Istanbul Bilgi Universitesi (Turkey)
  • Alma Mater Studiorum -Universita Di Bologna (Italy)
  • Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (Denmark)
  • Heriot-Watt University (United Kingdom)
  • Latvijas Kulturas Akademija (Latvia)
  • Europees Netwerk Culturele Centra Ivzw (Belgium)
  • Museum of The History of Polish Jews (Poland)
  • Stichting Nationaal Museum Van Wereldculturen (Netherlands)

More info at http://research.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/