Limits of cultural engineering: actors and narratives in the European Parliament’s House of European History project

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Series Details Vol.55, No.3, May 2017, p518–534
Publication Date May 2017
ISSN 0021-9886
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Concerned about the EU's apparent lack of cultural legitimacy, EU institutions have increasingly engaged in the transnational politics of history to enhance European identity and foster EU legitimacy. The House of European History museum project in Brussels marks a high point in the European Parliament's history politics.

Based on document analysis and interviews, an analysis of the project's origins and evolution highlights the narrow limits of cultural engineering from above by EU institutions, however. The constraining dissensus in EU politics has forced the European Parliament to rely entirely on the curators and professional historians to legitimize its museum as one that conforms to prevailing curatorial and historical standards.

As a result, the first permanent exhibition differs markedly from the original plan. Its narrative has become East Europeanized and the history of European integration proper has been marginalized.

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