Is This Us? The Construction of European Woman/Man in the Exhibition It's Our History!
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCulture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research. 2011, 3 369-383. 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.113369
On the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the non-profit organisation Musée de l’Europe staged the exhibition It’s our history!. The subject of It’s our history! was the history of European integration from 1945 to today. The exhibition was intended to make European citizens aware that – as the exhibition’s manifesto stated: ’The History, with a capital H, of European construction is inextricable from our own personal history, that of each European citizen. It is not the reserve of those that govern us. We all shape it, as it shapes us, sometimes unbeknown to us. It’s our history!’ One of the means that the Musée de l’Europe chose as an illustration of this supposed interrelation of History and history are video testimonies in which 27 European citizens (one from each European member state) tell their own life stories. The present article explores this use of autobiographical accounts as didactic means in It’s our history!. The article argues that through the 27 Europeans, an image of European woman/man and European integration is advanced that glosses over internal conflicts in Europe’s recent history, leads to the construction of a model European citizen and serves as a symbol for the slogan ’unity in diversity’ in which Europe appears as more united than diverse.