Creative Commons: Reflections on the Heritage of Religious Minorities in Europe
Over the past three years the Center for Religion and Heritage at the University of Groningen has been involved in projects that examine how religious minorities in Europe are engaging with heritage. Several factor coincide to make this an important topic in heritage work today. The FARO convention and the Unesco SDGs make democratization of heritage an urgent need, as has the activism associated with the history of slavery and colonialism. In 2019, we hosted the conference “Religious Heritage in a Diverse Europe” together with partners in the Netherlands and across Europe. In 2020, we began to collaborate with our Spanish, Hungarian and French partners in the creative sector on the topic of heritage and inclusion, as part of the Erasmus Plus project REBELAH.
The work with REBELAH has opened my eyes to new needs and aspects of minority heritage. I have come to understand that creative organizations are needed in order to realize the goal of enabling all residents of Europe to find historical roots in the place they live, because creative organizations can help marginalized communities find their voices and activate their imaginations, and allow them to enter into dialogue with the organizations that represent the established heritage. This creative dialogue is a path to democratizing heritage practices and hopefully recasting European heritage, so that it is more inclusive. Heritage also offers opportunities for dialogue between different minority communities and between minority and “majority” communities. Scholars like us can play a role in this dialogue by studying how meaning-making around heritage is being practiced in the various corners of society, and by providing historical perspectives and a forum for reflection.
Inspired in part by REBELAH, our center would like to continue the work started in REBELAH with a project on the heritage of religious minorities in Europe, involving minority communities, grassroots heritage activists, more established heritage organizations and museums.