Croatia and its neighbouring post-Yugoslav countries are facing the challenge of building a civil society strong enough to publicly acknowledge the history of ethnic cleansing during the war between 1991 and 1995, and the systematic killing and displacement of minority groups in World War II. Without public recognition of these traumatic events, the past will remain an obstacle in the process of forging a stable and peaceful society, and will also slow down the much-desired integration of Croatia into the European Union.
The overall objective of this project is to support the process of “dealing with the past” in Croatia. The concretization of this objective is the shared responsibility of the human rights organisation Documenta in Zagreb, Croatia and the Erasmus Studio in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Together they have defined the following goals:
- Offer a platform where victims of war and the general public with an interest in Croatia’s past can access the recorded interviews. This will contribute to restoring self-respect and social and individual empowerment.
- Affirm remembrance and truth-telling and ensure that memories are kept for the future in archival custody, in the region itself and as a digital copy in The Netherlands.
- Contribute to public awareness on the importance of respect for human rights, and minority rights through increasing visibility of minority narratives.
- Strengthen the position of Croatian institutions in the field of human rights, documentation and science and develop networks with The Netherlands and other post-Yugoslavian countries.
- Affirm oral history in relevant scholarly communities as a sub-discipline of history.
- Demonstrate that the use of state-of-the-art ICT tools, such as speech technology, can improve access to historical information.
A wide range of local and international outreach activities are planned (events, conferences, publications) aiming at both the general public (including political leaders, media, educators and judiciary) and the local and international human rights organisations. The first type of activities is meant to make the public aware of the fact that it is possible to interpret the past in various ways. The second is meant to mobilise organisations to use the material as a source for documentation and research.
The plan also includes monitoring the effect that this technology-enhanced access to recorded memories will have on the various communities. This requires that the goals for the creation of the portal are clearly communicated to the target communities, that a representative audience is selected to participate in the developmental stage, and that parameters are developed to measure the expected changes in attitude and perception.