22-24 October 2015, Thessaloniki -- The CDRSEE shared its experience and expertise in the field of divided and polarised societies with this year's NECE Conference, with Prof. Christina Koulouri, Chair of the CDRSEE's History Education Committee, delivering a keynote speech and Corinna Noack-Aetopulos, Director of Programmes, taking part in a panel discussion session on “Where now for Europe” and a workshop on “Othering and Identity”.
Christina Koulouri, in her keynote, explained the Greek discourse on immigration and citizenship from a historical perspective and showed how the identity of “being Greek” was defined. In her presentation, Prof. Koulouri captured the polarised public debate in Greece and showed examples of open nationalism. But, she also conveyed interesting self-reflections, such as those expressed in graffiti in Athens stating, “Our grandparents were refugees, our parents were immigrants, and we are racists”.
The panel on “Where now for Europe” sparked a thought-provoking discussion on the Greek/German crisis as well as on expectations for the European model to stand out again on the global stage and deliver on its promise to establish an inclusive and social market ecomomy. Ulrike Guerot from the European Democracy Lab compared the current situation in Europe to the “Weimarer Republik”, and Loukas Tsoukalis from ELIAMEP said, “Europe has lost its shine”.
Fifteen parallel workshops followed, and the CDRSEE contributed to “Othering and Identity”, which offered a deep theoretical analysis of what we mean when we speak of identities and how they differ from roles. Step by step, guided by Michalis Kakos from Leeds Beckitt University, participants developed awareness of how we need the “other” to define ourselves, and how our need for “recognition” plays an important role in building our identities.
The group also discussed interviews that Prof. Ross Alistair conducted with youth around Europe and the Western Balkans. Led by Prof. Alistair, the participants analysed a selection of examples, where secondary students expressed their identities and what they identify with, and the group explored the external conditions that led to single statements.
NECE, the organiser of the conference, is a non-institutionalised initiative for networking citizenship education in Europe, working towards the creation of a European general public. It offers a forum that allows a variety of stakeholders involved in citizenship education to interact with one another for promoting the Europeanisation of citizenship education.
The NECE Conference in 2015 focused on conflicts in and around Europe and dealt with the question of “how to reimagine and define the role of citizenship education in increasingly divided and polarised societies”.