“A Collectivity Is Unimaginable without a Collective Memory That Keeps the Shared past Alive and Constantly Translates It to the Present”

Op-ed by Luc Boeva, Former Director of the Archives of National Movements (ADVN) and Coordinator of the National movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe (NISE)

News / 23.11.21

Luc Boeva, Former Director of the Archives of National Movements (ADVN) and Coordinator of  the National movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe (NISE), is a speaker we invited for our conference Silenced Voices: Recovering Forgotten Narratives of European Peoples

A (political) collectivity is unimaginable without a collective memory that keeps the shared past alive and constantly translates it to the present. Within this collective memory, values and ideas are enclosed that define that collectivity and ensure its continued existence. Memory is rooted in heritage, consisting of that what is being kept and therefore becomes part of our individual and/ or collective memory. Heritage comes in all kinds of forms: in books, through visual arts and architecture, as landscapes and townscapes, via immaterial heritage practices, oral traditions etc. And, of course, in archives.

Throughout history, several reasons to keep archives developed: legal and administrative, historiographical, personal and political. Archives support and guarantee the rights and obligations of governments and citizens (in modern times becoming a precondition for a democratic society as well as bearing witness to repression and violence); provide the basis for original historical research; influence the contents and orientation of personal memory; and, last but not least are vital for collective memory i.e. the identity of a community, symbolising the survival of a culture– in the process even becoming a ‘luogo della memoria’ in itself.

In the 21st century, archival practices have been democratised through the new paradigm of ‘community archiving’: as a result of the digitalisation of society and therefore also archiving, an organisation, site or collection in which other people than professional archivists contribute knowledge or resources, usually in a online environment, leads to increased public understanding of archival materials and their content. Archivists and archival institutes working with the public strengthen democracy and identity, when at the same time retaining and upholding the professional and academical standards required – an evolution that has recently been bolstered by transnational cooperation and assistance. As a counter-force to developments like (social) media dumbing down or fake news, this evolution in archives management helps to maintain a broad, evidence- based collective memory: so… heritage matters!

. . .

Photo by Coppieters Foundation.

. . .

The Coppieters Foundation is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conferences, events or opinion pieces published on our website.

. . .

Thank you for following our activities over the past few years. We hope our updates have been useful to you. We would like to keep informing you about upcoming events, new publications, summer schools, and job vacancies. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear from us in your inbox.