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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.