– The one who curated European history –
15 :30 . History is not the field of a fight – at least it should not be. I conceive history as a field of debate and searching : we are in pursuit of discovery, fields of interest, new interpretations that could fit together. Wait, did this sound a bit ‘nerdy’ ? (She laughs)
Joanna is a curator at the House of European history, museum located in Brussels and dedicated to the history of European people.*
– Working in this museum has allowed me to gain a new perspective on history. I reckon we are all taught history from different angles : people from other member states, when learning about the same facts as I did, were taught so from their national angle, because nations generally chose the facts that are essential to understand their own history. This means that it is not always easy to understand the different sensitivities and views on historical facts across the world. What I found fantastic when coming here, was to meet other historians and to grasp their own perspective of on things. Here, we are making something revolutionary because we are building a synthesis of history. We are not presenting a summary of national histories ; we created a new narrative on phenomenons that shaped Europe.
I think history and culture in general are a beautiful field of cooperation. Of course, one can opt not to dig into history. But at the end of the day history is a way of enriching your own knowledge of what is going on – a way of seeing how past circumstances still affect the present, for example conflicts that are still ongoing. Also, by not understanding other peoples’ cultures, you can hurt them; understanding their history means understanding what helped shape who they are. In the museum, we have these two quotations related to World War II, one of them refers to the necessity of looking ahead, at the future and forgetting about the awful past and the other quotation underscores the need to understand the past, in order not to repeat it, ever.
(*The House of European History is a museum dedicated to the understanding of the shared past of European people, presenting different points of view but with a common ground in European history. The museum tours are available in up to 24 languages (the official languages of the EU)).