KS kultura sjećanja / remembrance culture

Themes in our focus

According to the organizational structure, the activities of Documenta - Center for Dealing with the Past are implemented in three basic programs: (1) Documentation, (2) Public dialogue and public policies, and (3) Improvement of judicial standards and practices.

The culture of remembrance is one of the program directions within the program "Public Dialogue and Public Policies". Documenta's activities in the field of building a culture of remembrance and critical dealing with the past include various methods in order to bring the results of scientific research closer to the general public and sensitize the public to political violence and its victims.

We consider the memorialization of places of persecution and suffering in the Republic of Croatia and other countries to be an important element in encouraging memory and critical reflection of the public. We consider public thematization of political violence in selected localities to be an important element not only of critically dealing with the past but also of democratic civic education. We carry out activities in cooperation with public institutions, researchers and associations dealing with these topics.

On the other hand, we pay special attention to the methods and formats of non-formal education of young people and adults, which we carry out in cooperation with educational and museum institutions.

The topics we deal with can be divided into the following time units:

1) Ideologies, wars and political violence in Europe until 1945

The first thematic block is dedicated to the period of the emergence of modern nationalism, imperialism and Antisemitism, the strengthening of the social role of the state, the growth of colonial empires and the militarization of European societies on the eve of the Great War. We thematise the issue of the relationship between the state and the individual in the context of the disintegration of great empires: forced migration, assimilation policies and the absence of individual rights and freedoms. These issues are especially important to us in the context of understanding the social consequences of the Great War and changes in interwar Europe: the genesis of totalitarian ideologies and the establishment of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in interwar Europe.

We pay special attention to ideologically motivated violence in the context of the Second World War: policies to destroy social groups and attempts to justify such a crime. We critically question the perspectives of victims, perpetrators and observers of crime. Our focus is also on issues of collaboration and resistance to fascist regimes in the Independent State of Croatia and other countries, as well as issues of revenge and punishment of individuals and social groups.

2) Dictatorships and political violence in post-war Europe (1945-1990)

Violence in the context of the end of the Second World War and repression in the context of the consolidation of post-war regimes represent some of the most important topics in our dealing with the post-World War II period. We pay special attention to the memorialization of Goli Otok as a symbol of political repression in the period of the Cominform crisis. We also pay attention to the topic of ideologizing society, as well as to the legitimation strategies of dictatorships, such as the media construction of the enemy or nurturing the political cults of the state and the great leader.

On the other hand, we also analyze aspects of social development within dictatorships that have contributed to their legitimacy and still represent an important basis for the widespread nostalgia for the "good old days'' within many European societies. We critically re-examine social development and the rise of prosperity in post-war Europe, the themes of social emancipation and the strengthening of civil movements. An additional thematic block represents the growing crisis of undemocratic orders in Europe during the 1970s and especially the 1980s. The strengthening of opposition movements and the introduction to democratic change are also topics in our focus.

3) Violence and wars in the context of the disintegration of Yugoslavia (1990-2000)

The 1990s strongly marked Croatian society as well as other societies in the post-Yugoslav area. Consequently, the period of the Homeland War and other wars in the context of the disintegration of Yugoslavia have a central place in the work of Documenta. For years, Documenta has been collecting data on the victims of the Homeland War with the aim of creating a comprehensive list of the dead and missing.

In addition to the victims of war, we also pay attention to the social context in which the war took place. We critically re-examine the events that preceded the war and that contributed to the escalation of violence. We also pay attention to topics related to the wars of the 1990s, which do not find their place in official narratives. We thematize peace movements and resistance to violence, as well as lesser-known events and phenomena related to the wars of the 1990s, with the aim of providing an insight into a broader, more complex picture of the reality of war.

We pay special attention to the processes of individual and social daling with wars in the context of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the processes of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Therefore we extensively thematize the contemporary culture of remembrance and the politics of remembrance in Croatia and other European countries.

4) Contemporary challenges

During the last years, Documents has become more and more open to topics that are not specific only to Croatia and the countries in the post-Yugoslav area, but are equally relevant to a large number of European societies and beyond. This shift in focus corresponds to two important processes: the integration of the Republic of Croatia into the European Union and the increasingly pronounced social consequences of digitalization, which strongly influences the process of dealing with the past.

The digitization enabled by a radical increase in the number of sources of historical narratives in public space has resulted in the strengthening of post-factual narratives and the simultaneous reduction of scientific research in the eyes of many to only one of the possible interpretations of the past. Populism and pseudo-scientific interpretations, meanwhile, have turned into a serious social and political challenge with millions of proponents around the world. Nevertheless, many popular myths about the existence of conspiracies and secret levers of world governance are strongly based on propaganda patterns and motives from earlier periods of European and world history, especially National Socialist propaganda.

In our work we pay attention to the challenges of critically dealing with the past in modern European societies, marked not only by digital transformation and European integration but also other challenges of today, such as growing ethnic and linguistic heterogeneity of the population or intermingling of many European settlements and regions.