Analyzing Monuments using crosstabulations of Historical Thinking Competencies and Types of Narrating

Kör­ber, Andreas (2018): “Ana­lyz­ing Mon­u­ments using crosstab­u­la­tions of His­tor­i­cal Think­ing Com­pe­ten­cies and Types of Nar­rat­ing.” In: His­torisch Denken Ler­nen. Arbeits­bere­ich Geschichts­di­dak­tik der Uni­ver­sität Ham­burg. 16.10.2018.

The fol­low­ing is a fol­low-up in the dis­cus­sion on Stéphane Lévesques mod­el of his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies as pre­sent­ed in Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly, a few days ago, titled “Remov­ing the ‘Past’: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry” 1 and my first extend­ed com­ment on this pub­lished here on this blog.

A crosstab­u­la­tion of com­pe­ten­cies and patterns/logic of sense­mak­ing like Stéphane Lévesque sug­gest­ed 2 is indeed use­ful for “read­ing” indi­vid­ual mon­u­ments and mak­ing sense of their “mes­sage”, also. Stéphane’s fill­ing of the table is a bit abstra­cht, gen­er­al for this, so the fol­low­ing would in part be my own understanding.

It also is based on Rüsen’s notion that while the dif­fer­ent pat­terns were devel­oped sequen­tial­ly over time, to “old­er” ones are not lost, but still avail­able and indeed vis­i­ble in mod­ern day think­ing, in fact most of the time in com­bi­na­tions. What char­ac­ter­izes mod­ern-time his­tor­i­cal think­ing, then, is the pres­ence and dom­i­nance of “genet­ic” think­ing, while pre-mod­ern thought would not have this type at its dis­pos­al at all. But then, our exam­ples here are all “mod­ern”, so that it may be a ques­tion of dom­i­nance and rel­a­tive weight.

Take a mon­u­ment for a civ­il war general:

  • A spec­ta­tor today may read it as a reminder to the ori­gin of the cur­rent state of affairs, pos­si­bly the “los­ing of the cause” (e.g. both the hon­oured gen­er­al and the spec­ta­tor being southen­ers) or to the lib­er­a­tion of the slaves (both northen­ers). In both cas­es, the mon­u­ment would be seen as point­ing to an ori­gin of what is seen as valid today (the very def­i­n­i­tion of Rüsen’s “tra­di­tion­al” type). This might explain why peo­ple adher­ing to the north­ern nar­ra­tive would oppose to south­ern mon­u­ments, and vice ver­sa, not believe­ing their sto­ry in the first place — and maybe fear­ing that keep­ing the mon­u­ments would sig­ni­fy that their ver­sion was to be seen as valid.
  • In an exem­plar­ic mode, how­ev­er, both may accept the “oth­er side’s” mon­u­ments, because what they point at would not be seen as the ori­gin of affairs, but rather a gen­er­al rule, e.g. hon­our­ing peo­ple “brave­ly fight­ing for their respec­tive (!) cause”. The log­ic would be that each soci­ety would hon­or “their heroes”, who do not so much stand for the spe­cif­ic cause but for a gen­er­al rule. What hap­pens on the ground in Get­tys­burg, e.g., is some­thing along this line: “Tra­di­tion­al” com­mem­o­rat­ing attracts most peo­ple going there, but an exem­plary “cov­er-nar­ra­tive” allows for com­mon remembrance.

Con­sid­er an exam­ple from Ham­burg, where I work  3: On our “Rathaus­markt”, there is a mon­u­ment, hon­our­ing Hamburg’s dead from WW1. When it was erect­ed in 1932, it looked as it does today. The inscrip­tion on one side reads “four­ty thou­sand sons of town left their lives for you” (in Ger­man: “Vierzig Tausend Söhne der Stadt ließen ihr Leben für Euch”) and a relief of a woman (moth­er) and child (daugh­ter) appar­ent­ly com­fort­ing each oth­er in mourn­ing (and there­fore rem­i­nis­cent of a pietà) by Ernst Bar­lach on the oth­er side.

Ernst Barlach: Relief (1931; Re-construction) auf dem Mahnmal auf dem Hamburger Rathausmarkt. Foto von Wikimedia Commons (gemeinfrei): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Hamburg_Mahnmal_01_KMJ-adj.jpg
Ernst Bar­lach: Relief (Pietà; 1931; Re-con­struc­tion) auf dem Mah­n­mal auf dem Ham­burg­er Rathaus­markt. Foto von Wiki­me­dia Com­mons (geme­in­frei): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Hamburg_Mahnmal_01_KMJ-adj.jpg

In 1938, the relief was exchanged for an eagle fly­ing up. 4 

Hans-Mar­tin Ruwoldt (1938): Adler auf dem Ham­burg­er Ehren­mal am Rathaus­markt. Foto von https://www.denk-mal-gegen-krieg.de/kriegerdenkmaeler/hamburg-lo-os/

Did the form of com­mem­o­ra­tion, the valu­ing of the 40000 Ham­bur­gians, change? I do think so.

Already the addi­tion of “for you” as a con­ces­sion to the right par­ties changes a more tra­di­tion­al mes­sage into a more exem­plary one, which is made promi­nent by the exchange of the relief: It is even more pos­si­ble, because what are two dif­fer­ent con­cepts and terms in Eng­lish lan­guage, share a com­mon word in Ger­man: “Opfer”:

Despite the active voice of the inscrip­tion and in spite of the (added) “for you”, the moth­er and daugth­er-relief marks the dead sol­diers rather as vic­tims of a greater con­text of war, to be mourned, their rather “trag­ic” deaths and loss as the ori­gin or our com­mon grief, and there­fore seems to incor­po­rate ele­ments of a new kind of mon­u­ments, devel­oped in WW1, which do no longer pro­vide, but rather ques­tion the mean­ing of the deaths. 5 The eagle (or “phoenix” as the sculp­tor Hans Mar­tin Ruwoldt was com­mis­sioned), how­ev­er, erad­i­cat­ed this (thin on not exclu­sive) lay­er of ques­tion­s­ing, and ren­ders the 40.000 exem­plar­ic “sac­ri­fices” — heroes to be emu­lat­ed, cel­e­brat­ed. 6.
In 1948, the lost Bar­lach-relief, was restored, alas not by Bar­lach him­self, who had died meanwhile.

I do have a hard time con­struct­ing a genet­ic under­stand­ing of such a mon­u­ment, maybe because a mod­ern, genet­ic way of think­ing needs to have been informed by the “crit­i­cal” mode of at least part­ly de-legit­imiz­ing the ori­en­tat­ing pow­er of tra­di­tion­al and exem­plar­ic thinking.

Maybe this is the back­ground for mod­ern mon­u­ments being quite dif­fer­ent, either often non-fig­u­ra­tive — as Peter Eisenman’s Memo­r­i­al to the Mur­dered Jews in Berlin, or many works by Jochen Gerz 7 — or tak­ing on forms of counter-memo­ri­al­iza­tion 8, thus set­ting in motion a kind of change, not just re-present-ing a past, but encour­ag­ing or even enforc­ing crit­i­cal reflec­tion on it.

It is eas­i­er for the Ham­burg mon­u­ment: Genet­ic think­ing would ques­tion whether not only this hero­ify­ing way of com­mem­o­rat­ing heroes (even if not indi­vid­ual), but also the con­crete form of pub­lic acknowl­edg­ing of trag­ic loss can be time­ly, after we expe­ri­enced anoth­er war and an inhu­man dic­ta­tor­ship and geno­cide which was not least based on feel­ings insti­gat­ed by such com­mem­o­rat­ing. 9

But there is some­thing more to reflect­ing about nar­ra­tives — and espe­cial­ly on how to relate to them. As I wrote above, Memo­ri­als are nar­ra­tives. Rüsen calls them “nar­ra­tive abbre­vi­a­tions”, point­ing to them stand­ing for a spe­cif­ic nar­ra­tive, i.e. a spe­cif­ic rela­tion between a past (under mem­o­ry), the present (of the authors and erec­tors of the mon­u­ment as well as the intend­ed pub­lic), and with regard to a spe­cif­ic future, con­struct­ed only part­ly in ver­bal nar­ra­tive form, but also with non-ver­bal and sequen­tial­ly nar­ra­tive ele­ments (even though in some cas­es it is only the ver­bal inscrip­tions which real­ly hint to any his­tor­i­cal meaning).

Memo­ri­als are more than only pro­to-nar­ra­tives. Their (often) promi­nent (albeit also often over­looked) posi­tion­ing, their (proto-)narrative struc­ture and their own qual­i­ty for last­ing a long time (cf. “mon­u­men­tum exe­gi aere peren­nius), they do not only con­sti­tute a nar­ra­tive rela­tion from one tem­po­ral and social posi­tion towrds the past and the future, but also are meant to pro­long the sense they make and to impose it on lat­er gen­er­a­tions. Mon­u­ments are about oblig­at­ing their audi­ence, the spec­ta­tors with a cer­tain nar­ra­tive and inter­pre­ta­tion. That qual­i­fies them as parts of what we call “pol­i­tics of his­to­ry”, not only of com­mem­o­ra­tion, and what makes them political.

It there­fore is para­mount to read mon­u­ments as nar­ra­tives, and not only in the de-con­struc­tive sense of “what did those erec­tors make of that past back then”, but also in the re-conc­truc­tive sense of “in how far or how does this nar­ra­tive fit into my/our rela­tion to that past). In oth­er words: Stand­ing before a mon­u­ment and think­ing about mon­u­ments, we all need to (and in fact do) think in a com­bi­na­tion of under­stand­ing the oth­ers’ and delib­er­at­ing our own nar­ra­tive mean­ing-mak­ing.
There­fore we need to read them as nar­ra­tives first, and become com­pe­tent for it.

Mon­u­ments often take on the form of address­ing peo­ple. Some­times — as in the Ham­burg case above — they address the spec­ta­tor, remind­ing them of some kind of oblig­a­tion to com­mem­o­rate. 10 But who is talk­ing to whom? If the sen­ate of Ham­burg talkes to that to the Ham­burg cit­i­zens of 1930–1932, can/will we accept that (a) the Ham­burg Sen­ate of today still admon­ish­es us like that, and b) that we Ham­burg cit­i­zens of today are still addressed in the same way?

In oth­er cas­es, (inscrip­tions in) memo­ri­als might explic­it­ly address the com­mem­o­rat­ed them­selves, as e.g. in the con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment in Yanceyville, N.C., whose plaque reads “To the Sons of Caswell Coun­ty who served in the War of 1861–1865 in answer to the Call of their Coun­ty”, and con­tin­ues in a “We-Voice”, signed by the Caswell Chap­ter of the Unit­ed Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­a­cy”. So far so con­ven­tion­al. This might be rather unprob­lem­at­ic, since speak­er-posi­tion and addressees are clear­ly marked. One might leave the mon­u­ment even if one dis­agreed, not hav­ing to align with its nar­ra­tive. Only if the pres­ence of such com­mem­o­rat­ing in itself is inac­cept­able, action is imme­di­ate­ly called for.

But there are oth­er mon­u­ments which seem to talk from a neu­tral posi­tion, which in fact is that of the erec­tors, but by not being qual­i­fied, includes the spec­ta­tor into the speak­er posi­tion. The exam­ple I have ready at hand, is not from the US and not about war heroes, but again from Ham­burg, this time from Neuengamme con­cen­tra­tion camp memo­r­i­al. In 1965, an “inter­na­tion­al mon­u­ment” stele 11 was erect­ed there, togeth­er with a whole series of coun­try-spe­cif­ic memo­r­i­al plates. The inscrip­tion on the mon­u­ment reads “Your suf­fer­ing, your fight­ing and your death shall not be in vain” (my trans­la­tion).
This now clear­ly is inter­est­ing in at least two respects: (1) it ascribes not only suf­fer­ing and death, but also fight­ing to those com­mem­o­rat­ed and there­by pos­si­bly does not refer to those inmates who nev­er had a chance or did not “fight”, who were pure vic­tims, and (2) it speaks from a neu­tral voice which is not marked in time and social, polit­i­cal or event-relat­ed posi­tion. Who­ev­er mourns at that place pos­si­bly silent­ly co-signs the statement.

International Monument (1965) at Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial (partial photo; (c) 2006 Andreas Körber)
Inter­na­tion­al Mon­u­ment (1965) at Neuengamme Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Memo­r­i­al (par­tial pho­to; © 2006 Andreas Körber)

Con­sid­er an equal hon­our­ing of con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als in, say NC: “Your fight­ing shall not have been in vain.” I would spark much more con­tro­ver­sy and con­cers — and right­ly so.

Still anoth­er exam­ple, the first Ham­burg mon­u­ment for the vic­tims of Nation­al Social­ism (from late 1945) on the Cen­tral Ceme­try in Ham­burg-Ohls­dorf, has an inscrip­tion “Injus­tice brought Us Death — Liv­ing: Rec­og­nize your Obligation”.

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf. Foto von NordNordWest/Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode); Original: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahnmal_Opfer_der_NS-Verfolgung_Ohlsdorf.jpg
Erstes Ham­burg­er Mah­n­mal für die Opfer des Nation­al­sozial­is­mus von 11/1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf. Foto von NordNordWest/Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode); Orig­i­nal: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahnmal_Opfer_der_NS-Verfolgung_Ohlsdorf.jpg

 

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf; Detail. Zustand 25.3.2010; Foto (c) Andreas Körber
Erstes Ham­burg­er Mah­n­mal für die Opfer des Nation­al­sozial­is­mus von 11/1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf; Detail. Zus­tand 25.3.2010; Foto © Andreas Körber

 

Again, for ana­lyz­ing and under­stand­ing, we need to rec­og­nize. The speak­er posi­tion here, is clear­ly (metaphor­i­call) held by the vic­tims to be com­mem­o­rat­ed. But whom do they speak to? Lit­er­al­ly, it is the “liv­ing”. In a very broad under­stand­ing, the monument/memorial there­fore address­es all humans, quite in a way what Rüsen has addressed as the high­est lev­el of nor­ma­tive plau­si­bil­i­ty: broad­en­ing the per­spec­tive to the lev­el of human­i­ty.
This is not very prob­lem­at­ic, since the inscrip­tion does talk of “duty”, not of “guilt”, it does not con­flate the addressees with those who inflict­ed the injus­tice upon the vic­tims. But it could have done. In 1945, the mes­sage would be clear­ly not mere­ly uni­ver­sal­ly human­is­tic, but at least also address­ing the Ger­mans as the soci­ety of the per­pe­tra­tors. It does not con­demn, but calls for rec­og­niz­ing the “duty” and respon­si­bil­i­ty for com­mem­o­rat­ing and non-repeat­ing as well as over­com­ing the struc­tures of NS injus­tice, hint­ing at respon­si­bil­i­ty for not pre­vent­ing them or even par­tic­i­pat­ing in them in the first place.

And today? In how far is the mes­sage the same for today’s soci­ety in Ger­many? The peo­ple liv­ing in Ger­many today do — apart from very few excep­tions — no per­son­al guilt or respon­si­bil­i­ty for what hap­pened. In how far can or should they see them­selvers addressed?

Again, there is no ques­tion as to the very gen­er­al, human­i­ty-relat­ed address. This encom­pass­es any audi­ence. But would that mean that there is no dif­fer­ence between any vis­i­tor to the memo­r­i­al and Ger­mans? Has the Nazi injus­tice (and sim­i­lar­ly the Holo­caust) become a mat­ter of gen­er­al, uni­ver­sal his­to­ry only? Is there no spe­cial belong­ing to and mes­sage for Ger­man his­to­ry? All these ques­tions can and need be addressed — and espe­cial­ly so, since a con­sid­er­able part of Ger­man soci­ety con­sists not only of peo­ple bornd and raised (long) after the “Third Reich”, but also of many who immi­grat­ed from oth­er coun­tries, soci­eties and cul­tures mean­while. Are they sim­ply count­ed into the per­pe­tra­tors’ soci­ety? (no, I think), but are they (to feeld) addressed, too (yes!), and in the same way — to be reflected!

In order to make up our minds on mon­u­ments we have “inher­it­ed” not only in polit­i­cal terms, we need to reflect their spe­cif­ic nar­ra­tive mes­sage in a spec­trum of time-rela­tions. And we need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our ter­mi­nol­o­gy and enable our stu­dents to mas­ter a set of con­cepts relat­ed. We need, e.g., to dis­tin­guish hon­or­ing com­mem­o­ra­tion from remind­ing and admon­ish­ing. In Ger­many we have (not easliy) devel­oped the notion of “Mah­n­mal”, admon­ish­ing, to be dis­tin­guished from a mere “Denkmal”. But even this dis­tinc­tion is insuf­fi­cient. A Mah­n­mal (in fact the lit­er­al trans­la­tion to “mon­u­ment”, from Latin “admonere”) may admon­ish to remem­ber our own suf­fer­ing inflict­ed on us by our­selves, some trag­ic or by oth­ers, but also may admon­ish to not for­get what we inflict­ed on oth­ers. This is the spe­cif­ic form “neg­a­tive mem­o­ry” of Ger­man memo­r­i­al culture.

There­fore, there’s a lot more to be reflect­ed in commemorating:

  • Who “talks”? who authors the nar­ra­tive — and is what capac­i­ty (e.g. in lieuf of “the peo­ple”, of a cer­tain group, …)?
  • whom does the mon­u­ment explic­i­ty address?
  • what is the rela­tion of explic­it addressees and fac­tu­al spectators?
  • in how far is the mes­sage the same for us today as it was envi­sioned back then — and pos­si­bly real­ized? is it the same for all of us?
  • what kind of mes­sage is perceived?

(cf. Kör­ber 2014)

 

Ref­er­ences:

  • Has­berg, Wolf­gang (2012): Ana­lytis­che Wege zu besserem Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. His­torisches Denken im Hand­lungszusam­men­hang Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Hamme, Johannes / Thüne­mann, Hol­ger / Züls­dorf-Ker­st­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschicht­sun­ter­richt? Per­spek­tiv­en im Ver­gle­ich. Schwalbach/Ts. / Wochen­schau, S. 137–160, p. 140.
  • Klin­gel, Ker­stin (2006): Eichenkranz und Dor­nenkro­ne. Kriegerdenkmäler in Ham­burg. Ham­burg: Lan­deszen­trale für Poli­tis­che Bildung.
  • Kör­ber, Andreas (2014): De-Con­struct­ing Mem­o­ry Cul­ture. In: Teach­ing his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ries in an inter­cul­tur­al per­spec­tive. Con­cepts and meth­ods : expe­ri­ences and results from the TeacMem project. Hrsg. von Helle Bjerg, Andreas Kör­ber, Clau­dia Lenz u. Oliv­er von Wrochem. Berlin 2014, 145–151.
  • Kör­ber, Andreas (2016): Sinnbil­dungstypen als Graduierun­gen? Ver­such ein­er Klärung am Beispiel der His­torischen Fragekom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Lehmann, Michael Wern­er und Ste­fanie Zabold (Hg.): His­torisches Denken jet­zt und in Zukun­ft. Wege zu einem the­o­retisch fundierten und evi­denzbasierten Umgang mit Geschichte. Festschrift für Wal­traud Schreiber zum 60. Geburt­stag. Berlin, Mün­ster: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27–41.
  • Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mean­ing. A The­o­ry of His­tor­i­cal Stud­ies. Unter Mitar­beit von Diane Kerns und Katie Digan. New York, NY: Berghahn Books Incor­po­rat­ed (Mak­ing Sense of His­to­ry Ser, v.28).
Anmerkun­gen / Ref­er­ences
  1.   Lévesque, Stéphane: Remov­ing the “Past”: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry. In: Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2018–12570. There also is a Ger­man and a French ver­sion. []
  2. Anoth­er such crosstab­u­la­tion has been sug­gest­ed (in Ger­man) by Wolf­gang Has­berg (Ana­lytis­che Wege zu besserem Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. His­torisches Denken im Hand­lungszusam­men­hang Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Hamme, Johannes / Thüne­mann, Hol­ger / Züls­dorf-Ker­st­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschicht­sun­ter­richt? Per­spek­tiv­en im Ver­gle­ich. Schwalbach/Ts. / Wochen­schau, S. 137–160, p. 140). For my cri­tique see Kör­ber 2016 (in Ger­man). I also pro­vid­ed a table, includ­ing the dif­fer­ent niveaus, but restrict­ed to “Fragekom­pe­tenz” (sim­i­lar to Stéphane’s “inquiry com­pe­tence”). []
  3. I used this also in a twit­ter-dis­cus­sion with Kim Wag­n­er (@KimAtiWagner) recent­ly. []
  4. For more pic­tures and infor­ma­tion see also https://www.denk-mal-gegen-krieg.de/kriegerdenkmaeler/hamburg-lo-os/. []
  5. On this type of mon­u­ments cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1994): Ein­leitung. In: Rein­hart Kosel­leck und Michael Jeis­mann (Hg.): Der poli­tis­che Totenkult. Kriegerdenkmäler in der Mod­erne. München: Fink (Bild und Text), S. 9–20, here p. 18f. []
  6. Ker­stin Klin­gel tells a some­what dif­fer­ent sto­ry, accord­ing to which the mourn­ing-relief was to be replaced by “war sym­bols” but all sktech­es hand­ed in by artists (includ­ing a wrath with swords by Ruwoldt) were reject­ed, so that he was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate an eagle, which he did, but in a way which far more resem­bled a dove than an eagle; cf. Klin­gel 2006, p. 71). In how far this might already have invoked con­no­ta­tions of peace rather that war, is ques­tion­able, though, giv­en that the dove as the uni­ver­sial sym­bol for peace was cre­at­ed by Picas­so only after World­War II []
  7. Cf. e.g. his “Invis­i­ble Mon­u­ment” in Sar­brück­en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platz_des_Unsichtbaren_Mahnmals. []
  8. Cf. a.o. Wijsen­beek, Dinah: Denkmal und Gegen­denkmal. Über den kri­tis­chen Umgang mit der Ver­gan­gen­heit auf dem Gebi­et der bilden­den Kun­st. München 2010. []
  9.  There’s a lot more to be reflect­ed in com­mem­o­rat­ing: Who talks to whom, here? What do they say and expect? Who is the “you”? Is it ” us” — still today? And if so: in how far is the mes­sage the same for all of us, those with Ham­burg ances­tors of the time, and those with­out, maybe immi­grants? In how far can this aspect define our atti­tude? Can we force all recent immi­grants into our own “nation­al” nar­ra­tive (and even more so when it is not WW1, but Holo­caust relat­ed)? But then, how can we not? (cf. also Kör­ber 2014, and see below. []
  10.  My moth­er used to explain the Ger­man word “Denkmal”, lit­er­al­ly refer­rring to a “mark(er)” for ini­ti­at­ing think­ing, as an imper­a­tive: “Denk mal!”, refer­ring to the oth­er mean­ing of the word “mal” as “for once”, result­ing in “do think for once!” []
  11.  Cf. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Neuengamme_memorial.jpg/800px-Neuengamme_memorial.jpg, (pho­to by Hao Liu in the pub­lic domain) []
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A new competency-model on monuments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a comment

Kör­ber, Andreas (2018): “A new com­pe­ten­cy-mod­el on mon­u­ments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a com­ment.” In: His­torisch denken ler­nen (14.10.2018):

In a recent con­tri­bu­tion to Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly, titled “Remov­ing the ‘Past’: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry” 1Stéphane Lévesque from Ottawa, Cana­da, pre­sent­ed a new mod­el for mon­u­ment-relat­ed com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing, using Jörn Rüsen’s types of his­tor­i­cal narrating.

The graph­ic ver­sion of the mod­el con­sists of four “com­pe­tences”, visu­al­ized as small­er cog­wheels arranged around and inter­act­ing with a cen­tral cog­wheel titled with “his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness”. For each of the four com­pe­ten­cies, a short, mon­u­ment-relat­ed def­i­n­i­tion is given.

Prompt­ed by a com­men­tary by Gabriel Reich of Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty, who also works exten­sive­ly on mon­u­ments in mem­o­ry cul­ture, Stéphane Lévesque added a (more gen­er­al) table ver­sion (a Span­ish trans­la­tion by Eliz­a­beth Mon­tanares Var­gas has been pre­sent­ed on face­book, mean­while) in an answer­ing com­ment, fur­ther detail­ing the com­pe­ten­cies in his mod­el. 2.

As much as I appre­ci­ate this new mod­el of com­pe­ten­cies in gen­er­al, I have also added a few com­ments to it (and to one point of Gabriel Reich’s com­ment, which is not in focus, here). The space pro­vid­ed by Pub­lic his­to­ry week­ly for com­ment­ing is lim­it­ed and graphs are (at least not eas­i­ly) allowed. I there­fore use this my own blog for repeat­ing my com­ment to Lévesque’s mod­el, and to detail it a bit further.

First of all, I strong­ly sup­port the ini­tia­tive to analyse mon­u­ments as an expres­sion of and fac­tor for his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness. Indeed, we need both a) to analyse them as experts by using our reper­toire of his­to­ri­o­graph­ic meth­ods and con­cepts in order to stim­u­late and sup­port informed pub­lic dis­cus­sion about whether a par­tic­u­lar mon­u­ment is still desir­able (or at least accept­able) or whether it needs to be changed (and how) or even removed, and b) to devel­op people’s com­pe­tences to address these issues them­selves, i.e. to reflect on the nature, mean­ing and mes­sage of a mon­u­ment both at the time of its con­struc­tion and today (e.g. through preser­va­tion, main­te­nance, alter­ation, com­ment­ing or removal).

For this rea­son, I great­ly appre­ci­ate Stéphane’s pro­pos­al for a com­pe­ten­cy mod­el, espe­cial­ly the table ver­sion from the com­men­tary above. This does not mean that I ful­ly sup­port the con­crete mod­el, but it has enriched the debate. Three com­ments on this:

(1) I doubt that com­pe­tence as such can be “tra­di­tion­al”, “exem­plary”, “genet­ic”, “crit­i­cal” or “genet­ic”. These pat­terns, both as I under­stand Rüsen and for myself, char­ac­ter­ize the log­ic of nar­ra­tives. I would there­fore rather read the table as “the com­pe­tence to query in the tra­di­tion­al mode” … “the com­pe­tence to nar­rate in crit­i­cal mode” etc.

(2) This again rais­es the ques­tion of whether the four pat­terns actu­al­ly con­sti­tute a dis­tinc­tion of com­pe­tence niveaus. While I agree that the genet­ic mode of nar­rat­ing his­to­ry is the his­tor­i­cal­ly most recent, com­plex and suit­able for explain­ing changes, I doubt – this time against Rüsen (cf. Kör­ber 2016) – that the typol­o­gy can describe com­pe­tence lev­els.
The com­pe­tence pro­gres­sion would need to be defined trans­ver­sal­ly: From (a) a basic lev­el of non-dis­tinc­tive (and thus uncon­scious­ly con­fus­ing) forms and pat­terns, via (b) the abil­i­ty to per­form all these forms of oper­a­tions in the var­i­ous pat­terns of Stéphane’s table (which would this describe a ful­ly devel­oped inter­me­di­ate lev­el), to © an elab­o­rat­ed lev­el of (addi­tion­al) abil­i­ty to think about the nature of these disc­tions, etc.

For this, the mod­el is very use­ful, full of ideas. It can help to think about what it takes to describe mon­u­ments nei­ther as “the past” nor as “sim­ply old”, but to iden­ti­fy and “read” them as nar­ra­tives (or nar­ra­tive abbre­vi­a­tions) from a cer­tain time, whose cur­rent treat­ment adds new nar­ra­tive lay­ers to them, so that their exis­tence (or absence), form, and treat­ment of them can always be seen and eval­u­at­ed as con­tem­po­rary state­ments about the respec­tive past. To rec­og­nize this and to deal with it in a social­ly respon­si­ble way requires these competences.

As far as Gabriel Reich’s com­men­tary is con­cerned, I only ask whether his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of an atti­tude to the con­fed­er­a­tion mon­u­ments can real­ly be addressed with Rüsen as “exem­plary”, since this mode is not con­cerned with the main­te­nance and sup­port of a con­ven­tion­al iden­ti­ty, but with the deriva­tion of a supertem­po­ral rule. I would refer to the exam­ple as “tra­di­tion­al”. An “exem­plary” atti­tude towards reten­tion would be more like­ly to be: “At all times, mon­u­ments of one’s own heroes have helped the losers of war to hold on to their cause. Then that must be pos­si­ble for us too.” Or some­thing along that line.

So far the com­ment already pub­lished in Pub­lic His­to­ry Weekly.

That said, I might add, that I don’t mean that the “genet­ic” way of sense­mak­ing is not in some way supe­ri­or to the oth­ers, and more apt for his­tor­i­cal mean­ing-mak­ing, espe­cial­ly in its inte­gra­tion of a notion of direct­ed change over time. My scep­ti­cism focus­es on the idea that today’s people’s (“onto­ge­net­ic”) com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing pro­gress­es along the same line as the cul­tur­al (“phy­lo­ge­net­ic”) devel­opo­ment of Rüsen’s pat­terns of sense­mak­ing through­out the his­to­ry of his­to­ri­og­ra­phy. Today’s youth simul­ta­ne­ous­ly encounter man­i­fes­ta­tions of his­tor­i­cal think­ing using all three (rather than four) 3 pat­terns of sense­mak­ing. While there is a kind of “devel­op­ment” of pow­er of his­tor­i­cal mean­ing-mak­ing and expla­na­tion from tra­di­tion­al via exem­plar­ic to genet­ic, I doubt that peo­ple and stu­dents have to move from the for­mer to the lat­ter — or do so.

My own idea of devel­op­ment of com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing can rather be visu­al­ized as fol­lows (adopt­ing Lévesque’s table):

Three niveaus/levels of competencies (schematic), following the FUER-model (cf. Körber 2015). The graph uses the table-version of Stéphane Lévesque's competence-model for historical thinking on monuments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6-2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; courtesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e-mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018
Three niveaus/levels of com­pe­ten­cies (schemat­ic), fol­low­ing the FUER-mod­el (cf. Kör­ber et al. 2007; Kör­ber 2015) 4. The graph uses the table-ver­sion of Stéphane Lévesque’s com­pe­tence-mod­el for his­tor­i­cal think­ing on mon­u­ments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6–2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; cour­tesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e‑mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018

 

  1. A “basic” niveau (and pos­si­bly ear­ly stage) would be defined by the inabil­i­ty of dis­tin­guish­ing dif­fer­ent modes of his­tor­i­cal nar­rat­ing in gen­er­al and refer­ring to mon­u­ments in this spe­cif­ic case. (Young) peo­ple on this niveau (at this stage) will relate to them. They will ask ques­tions (and thus exer­cise their “inquiry com­pe­tence”), think (“his­tor­i­cal think­ing com­pe­tence”), ori­en­tate them­selves (“ori­en­ta­tion com­pe­tence”), and nar­rate (“nar­ra­tive com­pe­tence”). But this basic niveau will not be defined by being “tra­di­tion­al”, but by an unin­formed mix­ing (pos­si­bly only half-under­stood) forms of all three pat­terns. This per­for­mance will be both insta­ble and incon­sis­tent. Half-baked tra­di­tion­al ques­tions will stand next to unre­flect­ed exem­plary state­ments, and so on. In the graph above, this is sym­bol­ized by the blurred table below.
  2. The abil­i­ty to apply the dif­fer­ent pat­terns in a some­what clar­i­fied way, to dis­tin­guish them and select one, to iden­ti­fy incon­sis­ten­cies in their mix­ing, etc., then marks the inter­me­di­ary niveau, and pos­si­ble a major stage in the devel­op­ment of these com­pe­ten­cies. On this niveau, at this stage, peo­ple will be able to dis­cuss about the mes­sage a mon­u­ment express­es and the mean­ing it has for us today, but they might dis­agree and even quar­rel because they apply dif­fer­ent pat­terns of mean­ing-mak­ing.
    In a way, Lévesque’s table describes this inter­me­di­ate niveau, the dif­fer­ent forms of his­tor­i­cal inquir­ing, think­ing, ori­en­tat­ing, and nar­rat­ing can take, depend­ing from the gen­er­al pat­tern of sense­mak­ing. The table (the mid­dle one in the graph above) clear­ly points at some­thing, I have also tried to express in my Ger­man arti­cle chal­leng­ing Rüsen’s own idea of the dif­fer­ent pat­terns form­ing dif­fer­ent nivueaus of com­pe­ten­cies 5: Each of the dif­fer­ent oper­a­tions (inquir­ing, nar­rat­ing, ori­en­tat­ing) will take on a spe­cif­ic stance of nar­rat­ing. It is a dif­fer­ence whether I ask for a tra­di­tion or for a rule to be derived from past exam­ples, or about a pat­terns of change across time. These ques­tions are informed by more gen­er­al stances and under­stand­ings of his­to­ry (maybe cod­ed in Lévesque’s cen­tral cog­wheel of “his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness”) and will gen­er­ate dif­fer­ent forms of ori­en­ta­tion and nar­rat­ing. This does not mean that the ini­tial stance deter­mines the out­come of the sto­ry, ren­der­ing his­tor­i­cal think­ing a mat­ter of self-affir­ma­tion — not at all. A per­son inquir­ing in tra­di­tion­al will look for an ori­gin for some­thing valid and might — via his­tor­i­cal think­ing and research — learn of a quite dif­fer­ent ori­gin. The mode of mean­ing-mak­ing will still be tra­di­tion­al, but the con­crete his­to­ry will have changed. But peo­ple might also be forced to change their pat­tern in the process, e.g. learn­ing of the lim­its of exem­plary think­ing when gain­ing insight into fun­da­men­tal change, and thus “progress” in a way from exem­plary to genet­ic sensemaking.
  3. The high­est niveau, how­ev­er, will be reached not by final­ly arriv­ing at the genet­ic forms of think­ing and the respec­tive com­pe­ten­cies, but by com­ple­ment­ing the abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize, dis­tin­guish and apply the dif­fer­ent for­ma with a trans­gress­ing abil­i­ty to reflect on the nature, val­ue and lim­its of this (and oth­er) typolo­gies them­selves. Only on this niveau (at this stage) are peo­ple ful­ly at com­mand of their his­tor­i­cal reflec­tion. They can address the lim­its soci­etal­ly accept­ed con­cepts and ter­mi­nol­o­gy pose and sug­gest new or amend­ed ones, etc. In the graph above, this is sym­bol­ized by the addi­tion­al focus to the rubrics of Lévesque’s table, marked by the blue rings.
Anmerkun­gen / Ref­er­ences
  1.   Lévesque, Stéphane: Remov­ing the “Past”: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry. In: Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2018–12570. There also is a Ger­man and a French ver­sion. []
  2. The table can be found under the same address as the orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion, down the page []
  3. Rüsen’s “crit­i­cal” type of nar­rat­ing does not real­ly fit into the typol­o­gy, pre­sent­ing not a new log­ic of inter­con­nect­ing tem­po­ral infor­ma­tion, but mere­ly de-elgitimiz­ing oth­ers. In 1988 already, Bodo von Bor­ries com­ment­ed on this and pre­sent­ed a graph­i­cal con­cept of the inter­re­la­tion of the dif­fer­ent types, in which a “crit­i­cal” type was placed between both the tra­di­tion­al and the exem­plary and the lat­ter and the genet­ic, thus assign­ing it the func­tion of a cat­a­lyst of devel­op­ment (Bor­ries, Bodo von (1988): Geschicht­sler­nen und Geschichts­be­wusst­sein. Empirische Erkun­dun­gen zu Erwerb und Gebrauch von His­to­rie. 1. Aufl. Stuttgart: Klett, p. 61; cf.  Kör­ber, Andreas (2015): His­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond? Some con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment with­in Ger­man his­to­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2015/10811/pdf/Koerber_2015_Development_German_History_Didactics.pdf, p. 14f.). In the new ver­sion of his “His­torik”, Rüsen presents a sim­i­lar ver­sion. Cf. Rüsen, Jörn (2013): His­torik. The­o­rie der Geschichtswis­senschaft. Köln: Böh­lau, p. 260. Eng­lish: Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mean­ing. A The­o­ry of His­tor­i­cal Stud­ies. Unter Mitar­beit von Diane Kerns und Katie Digan. New York, NY: Berghahn Books Incor­po­rat­ed (Mak­ing Sense of His­to­ry Ser, v.28), p. 198. []
  4.  Schreiber, Wal­traud; Kör­ber, Andreas; Bor­ries, Bodo von; Kram­mer, Rein­hard; Leut­ner-Ramme, Sibyl­la; Mebus, Sylvia et al. (2007): His­torisches Denken. Ein Kom­pe­tenz-Struk­tur­mod­ell (Basis­beitrag). In: Andreas Kör­ber, Wal­traud Schreiber und Alexan­der Schön­er (Hg.): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­torischen Denkens. Ein Struk­tur­mod­ell als Beitrag zur Kom­pe­ten­zori­en­tierung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neuried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesellschaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2), S. 17–53; Kör­ber, Andreas (2012): Graduierung his­torisch­er Kom­pe­ten­zen. In: Michele Bar­ri­cel­li und Mar­tin Lücke (Hg.): Hand­buch Prax­is des Geschicht­sun­ter­richts. His­torisches Ler­nen in der Schule, Bd. 1. Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochen­schau Ver­lag (Wochen­schau Geschichte), S. 236–254.; Kör­ber, Andreas (2015): His­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond? Some con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment with­in Ger­man his­to­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2015/10811/pdf/Koerber_2015_Development_German_History_Didactics.pdf, pp. 39ff []
  5.  Kör­ber, Andreas (2016): Sinnbil­dungstypen als Graduierun­gen? Ver­such ein­er Klärung am Beispiel der His­torischen Fragekom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Lehmann, Michael Wern­er und Ste­fanie Zabold (Hg.): His­torisches Denken jet­zt und in Zukun­ft. Wege zu einem the­o­retisch fundierten und evi­denzbasierten Umgang mit Geschichte. Festschrift für Wal­traud Schreiber zum 60. Geburt­stag. Berlin, Mün­ster: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27–41. []
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Vortrag zu “Living History” und Historischem Lernen in Warschau

Kör­ber, Andreas: “Liv­ing His­to­ry – Place, Pur­pose or Top­ic of His­tor­i­cal Learn­ing?”. Talk at the Con­fer­ence “Step­ping Back in Time Liv­ing His­to­ry and Oth­er Per­for­ma­tive Approach­es to His­to­ry in Cen­tral and South-East­ern Europe.” Feb­ru­aary 23–24, 2017, Ger­man His­tor­i­cal Insti­tute Warsaw .

Am 23. und 24.2. 2017 fand im Deutschen His­torischen  Insti­tut in Warschau eine inter­na­tionale Tagung statt zum The­ma  “Step­ping Back in Time Liv­ing His­to­ry and Oth­er Per­for­ma­tive Approach­es to His­to­ry in Cen­tral and South-East­ern Europe.” Ich habe dort einen Vor­trag zu Fra­gen des His­torischen Ler­nens in diesem Zusam­men­hang gehal­ten. Nach­trag 23.5.2017: Ein Tagungs­bericht find­et hier sich auf H‑SOZ-KULT.

Englischsprachiger Artikel zur Kompetenzorientierung des historischen Lernens

Kör­ber, Andreas (2011): “Ger­man His­to­ry Didac­tics: From His­tor­i­cal Con­scious­ness to His­tor­i­cal Com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond?” In: Bjerg, Helle; Lenz, Clau­dia; Thorstensen, Erik (Hgg.; 2011): His­tori­cis­ing the Uses of the Past – Scan­di­na­vian Per­spec­tives on His­to­ry Cul­ture, His­tor­i­cal Con­scious­ness and Didac­tics of His­to­ry Relat­ed to World War II. Biele­feld: tran­script (Zeit – Sinn – Kul­tur); ISBN: 9783837613254 ; pp. 145–164.

In der Doku­men­ta­tion zur Tagung “His­tori­cis­ing the Uses of the Past” in Oslo ist eine englis­chsprachige Kurz­fas­sung des FUER-Kom­pe­tenz­mod­ells erschienen:

 

Kör­ber, Andreas (2011): “Ger­man His­to­ry Didac­tics: From His­tor­i­cal Con­scious­ness to His­tor­i­cal Com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond?” In: Bjerg, Helle; Lenz, Clau­dia; Thorstensen, Erik (Hgg.; 2011): His­tori­cis­ing the Uses of the Past – Scan­di­na­vian Per­spec­tives on His­to­ry Cul­ture, His­tor­i­cal Con­scious­ness and Didac­tics of His­to­ry Relat­ed to World War II. Biele­feld: tran­script (Zeit – Sinn – Kul­tur); <a href=“https://portal.dnb.de/opac.htm?query=9783837613254&method=simpleSearch”>ISBN: 9783837613254</a> ; pp. 145–164.