In post-communist Balkans and especially in the states which emerged after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, educational reform was designed as one of the necessary preconditions for democratization and sustainable peace. In a region ‘suspicious’ of nationalism, the revision of history teaching was also embodied in the reconciliation process and has been promoted through bilateral, multilateral/regional and international projects. The underlying assumption behind this activity was that a change in the teaching methods of history might have a long-term effect on the way neighbouring peoples see one another. On the other hand, the ‘memory boom’ – a global phenomenon of the last decades- generated fierce disputes and even violent confrontations related to the traumatic historical experiences of the recent past. The victims have claimed the ‘duty to remember’ as part of their identity, also aiming at a moral recompense via history. What is the role of education in post-conflict societies? Can history teaching function as part of a major project of peace education? Should controversial and sensitive issues be silenced or taught? How can traumatic memories be transformed into a history lesson? These questions are going to be discussed by using the example of Balkan countries after the 1990s.
Christina Koulouri is Professor in Modern and Contemporary History at Panteion University of Political and Social Sciences (Athens, Greece) and Visiting Research Fellow at Stanley J. Seeger '52 Center for Hellenic Studies, Princeton University. She studied at the University of Athens (Department of History and Archaeology), the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Paris I - Panthéon - Sorbonne where she also received her PhD. Since 1999, she is the chair of the History Education Committee of the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE) and general coordinator of the Joint History Project (JHP). She is author of several books and articles on the teaching of history, the history of historiography, school textbooks, national identity, public history and the history of sports and the Olympic Games.