Chantal Kesteloot

Towards Public History. Representations and Commemorations of World Wars in Belgium

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Keywords: Commemorations; Representation of the Past; Belgium; World Wars; Memory.

War Centenary 2014 featured an unprecedented number of activities linked to the centenary of WWI. How can the memory and the legacy of that period be passed on when all witnesses are dead and when commemorative monuments seem to have lost their memorial value? Since the mid-1990, temporary exhibitions appeared as a privileged way to represent the Belgian experience regarding the two World Wars. The different stakeholders seem to agree more and more on the fact that museums and exhibitions are essential tools for handing down the commemorative message. In this sense, important sums have been allocated for different projects. In the context of the Centenary, Flanders opted for funding long-term museum projects, whereas the francophone part of Belgium decided to give priority to large-scale temporary exhibitions. Beside these far-reaching projects, innumerable small exhibitions and installations were organized. Is this the new way to face the past? What kind of narratives are presented?

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