Background Balkan Memories

Acknowledging that peace in the Western Balkans will only stand a chance if this legacy of past injustices and suffering is articulated, acknowledged  and discussed in public spaces, also begs the question of how this dialogue with the past can be developed and facilitated.  A consortium led by the Erasmus Studio (ES), an institute for e-research at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, has taken up this challenge by  engaging in a number of projects in the region in which innovative technology is applied to create and disseminate a collection of personal memories on war, peace and justice. This endeavour is based on a number of assumptions on how technology can contribute to reshape the post-conflict societal experience:

  1. A collection of video-interviews on personal memories contributes to the intangible cultural heritage of a region, as it documents   events and experiences which have been often excluded from written sources.
  2. Offering a platform to victims of war in which they can articulate their experiences and share them through online access is facilitates  recognition and empowerment
  3. Digitial recorded oral testimonies of violence and radical social change embedded in a biographical narrative , can serve multiple purposes  provided  the best use is made of innovative technology.

Though  a considerable number of  oral history initiatives have been initiated in the region, the approach advocated here can be considered to  have an added value  as it combines  a number of   innovative features: (i) the interviews are being recorded on video, yielding a combination of sound and image (ii) the interviews will all be transcribed and translated, which makes them  accessible for an international audience and    searchable at fragment level and (iii) the  broad scale of the project  (500 per region)  and the fact that  the aim is to cover all regions, offers ample possibilities for discerning and comparing  patterns.