Fall and rise: the reconstruction of a country after a war

International Seminar: Fall and rise: the reconstruction of a country after a war

1-3 October 2015. Bilbao and Gernika-Lumo, Spain.

Organisers: Gernika Peace Museum Foundation and the European Observatory on Memories (EUROM).
Contributor: Université de Perpignan Via Domitia (UPVD).
Sponsored by: Secretaría de Paz y Convivencia del Gobierno Vasco.

After a war, cultural heritage is often resorted to as a guide for the reconstruction process that follows it. Two fundamental dynamics cause this interest: one is the desire to repair, restore and recover what was lost in the destruction and the other arises from a selection of what is to be maintained, rebuilt or simply forgotten. Both processes involve choices regarding what to rebuild and entail reinterpreting the past to build a new history.

How can a new society that has been crushed by war be rebuilt? How can a people remake itself after living through the greatest destruction ever? And in this rebuilding, what is old and what is new? What is kept and how can this hard memory be lived with?

The bleak landscape after the Spanish Civil War, World War II and other, more recent, wars (the Balkans war, etc) left us with a view not only of fields of death and misery but also of a superhuman effort to redo the undone. More than 80% of Gernika was bombed and crushed; 90% of the homes in Warsaw were destroyed; only 27% of homes in Budapest were habitable in 1945; 40% of German homes had disappeared as well as 30% in Britain and 20% in France. Not a single bridge remained over the Seine between Paris and the sea and only one remained intact over the entire Rhine. The national economies of almost all the countries involved in the war were stagnant or broken. Nevertheless, the fight was not only to overcome the enemy but also to build new societies that wanted to leave the past behind them.

This international seminar aims to describe these grey – and often unknown – episodes of the rebuilding of villages, cities and their heritage after years of interminable wars.

The programme is available online here, and as a pdf: 2015 fall and rise program.

The seminar will be in Spanish.

Social network coverage: @museodelapaz @euromemories #GernikaFallRise

The registration is FREE and ONLINE. The conference website is here.