Influences: Actors, Factors, Institutions and Media

Who contributes to shaping the past? This was the first question we worked on after a presentation of the four different worksops (both concept and results) by the organising teams and a debate on differences and observations. On four big boards distributed all over the conference room, we collected different contributors and clusterd them. The idea was to get an overview on everything we came over during our project or deam relevant otherwise.

Factors determining for the view on history we have are the predominant political culture, in particular the relevance of nationalism, stereotypes or ,political correctness’. Also economic and social living conditions contribute and international dependencies and interest are relevant.

As actors actively »shaping« our views on history we identified people we personally meet, like family, time witnesses, and teachers.

In addition religious groups, think tanks, NGOs and historians try to influence our concept of the world. Also political institutions (parliaments, governments, courts) and thus political leaders take influence as they set the frameworks for research, and decide on education, but also establish memorials, declare national holidays, erect monuments and name streets, airports, public buildings and so on. And finally also international institutions such as the European Union, the Council of Europe or the OSCE need to be noted.

Finally, also media has influence. There are publications of various kinds intending to influence our views on history, such as history books and school books, newspapers or film documentations. There are others who do so as a more or less wanted (or intentionally hidden?) side effect, such as novels, art works, movies, theatre and different expression. Recently there are also various kinds of online media, such as blogs, encyclopedias or web courses. All these can be serious, of a yellow-press or of a propaganda type.

During an intensive discussion, we discovered that all these contributors exist in all our countries but can be of very different relevance depending on historic contexts, experiences, habits and also on the collective readiness to explore and reflect history.