In the history of Europe, 1918 is primarily associated with the end of the First World War. But in Eastern and Central Europe 1918 also meant the rapid disintegration of the Russian, Habsburg, German and Ottoman empires and the birth of nine new states – Austria, Hungary, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
The desire to break away from the imperial yoke and to build modern states and societies radically reshaped the political map of Europe and the Europe we know today was largely shaped by the dreams of the interwar era.
One hundred years on, BOZAR in collaboration with Culture Action Europe and other partners is revisiting this largely unknown page of European history. Seconding commemorations of centenaries across Eastern and Central Europe we examine 1918, not just as an important date in national calendars, but also as a powerful symbol of the explosion of creativity of many people who were aspiring to build a better future. The years following the declaration of independence across the region were a time for building nations and crafting democracies, for unprecedented social transformation and unrivalled experimentation in the arts, science and technology. The future was a blank canvas.
Today remembering 1918 means recollecting and critically engaging with the many visions of modernity that produced, not only the most tragic twists in European history, but developments which simultaneously continue to inspire a better vision of Europe’s future.
1918 European Dreams of Modernity 100 Years On project aims to:
– engage citizens from across Europe in remembrance and critical reflection of this important page in European transnational history
– commemorate this fundamental political and social change in Brussels, the capital of Europe;
– present the history of envisioning, constructing and living this profound political and social change as shared European experience.
The expected impact of the project is to create shared understanding of the past and to nurture the dialogue between European citizens of different origins. Instead of framing this project as national celebrations it is designed to bring together participants from across Europe to reflect on the meaning of 1918 past and present. Today when the European project is challenged by the forces of fragmentation and de-modernization, the dreams of modernity appear to be a unique source for imagining a more peaceful, prosperous and fair Europe.
To achieve this impact 5 activities are to be organised: one 6-hours debate in Brussels in January 2018, 3 one-day debates in Central Europe in April-May 2018, and one final two-day debate in Brussels in December 2018.