Crossing Borders: Connecting European Identities in Museums and Online


Simon Knell (work package lead & editor), Bodil Axelsson, Lill Eilertsen, Eleni Myrivili, Ilaria Porciani, Andrew Sawyer and Sheila Watson. 2012. Crossing Borders: Connecting European Identities in Museums and Online, Eunamus Report No. 2, Linköping University Press, Linköping.


This is a work package report of the Eunamus project, which was concerned with understanding how national history museums contribute to European social cohesion. Our purpose here was to look beyond these museums and consider more fundamentally the impact of European material culture, the distributed performances of provincial museums and heritage sites, and immaterial, border-crossing, museum-like, online performances. The idea was to understand more fundamentally the ‘museology of Europe’. Part 1 argues that Europe is manifested as a polycentric performance that has derived its own material language that implicitly speaks of Europe. Part 2 looks at four distributed performances that challenge the reductive narratives of nations to be found in national museums. Part 3 looks at online communities and wonders if these spaces contribute democratic museums – museums of the people? Interestingly, these latter examples seem to turn us back towards a need for institutions and professionals; that Europe is not manifested through things but through the discourses we construct for them.


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The museum unbounded

Part 1 Europe as a language (Simon Knell)

Silent Europe
The silent object
Europe as a material language
Speaking of nation
Saying different things
Categories of object and museum
The soft architecture of national museums
The distribution of words and expressions
An evolving, inclusive, language
Material borderlands

Part 2 The distributed nation

The distributed nation

Norwegian regionalism (Lill Eilertsen)

Bergen and the power of knowledge
Maihaugen and the production of the indigenous
Tromsø and the politics of the North
Bodø and the defence of livelihood
Sverresborg and the cult of the Saint King
Nordvegen and national origins

Swedish studies of contemporary society (Bodil Axelsson)

The geography of belonging
Cooperative rationalism
Studies of domestic life
Studies of Swedish working life
Re-imagining Swedish society
Difficult matters
Rituals and places of Death
Studying today for today

English manipulations of class (Sheila Watson)

The rise and fall of class distinction
The stately home under attack
The loss of old ways
The new social history
A new love for old houses
Museums of rural and industrial life
From a nation of classes to a classless nation

Unifying Italy (Ilaria Porciani)

Regions and cities
Museum making before unification
Unification and the protection of local identities
The fragmented national museum

Part 3 Transnational, museum-like, online

Transnational, museum-like, online

Cross-border communications at Lake Prespa (Eleni Myrivili)

A confluence of ethnicities
A national borderland
Prespa Transboundary Park
A culture of online discord
Prespa online and transnational
Transnational possibilities

Cold War connections on Flickr (Andrew Sawyer)

Museums and Flickr
Flickr groups
Locating the Cold War
Cold War groups
Flickr – a democratic museum?