From Great Men to Ordinary Citizens? The Biographical Approach to Narrating European Integration in Museums
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCulture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research. 2011, 3 385-400. 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113385
The history of European integration is not easy to tell – in books or, for that matter, in museums. Most importantly, it appears to lack drama. This lack of drama creates a dilemma for museum practitioners who wish to tell stories about the contemporary history of Europé as shared history. In these circumstances, one prominent way of telling stories about European integration history in museums, and the focus of this article, is the biographical approach. Drawing upon research in all of the museums mentioned in this article and many more, and some 60 interviews with museum practitioners from across Europé, this article first discusses three biographical approaches to narrating European integration history in museums. It proceeds to draw out general conclusions about the prospects of mainstreaming European integration in history museums, and about the particular opportunities and pitfalls of the biographical approach and its different varieties.