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26 C O N T E X T 1 5 7 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ASTRID SWENSON Conserving Europeanness At a time of uncertainty about the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe, the history of conservation can show us ways of re-imagining a community and achieving reconciliation. At a moment of crisis of the European pro- ject, the aim of European Heritage Year 2018 (to ‘raise awareness of the opportunities that cultural heritage brings, mainly in terms of inter- cultural dialogue, social cohesion and economic growth’, Council of the European Union, 2016) invites us to reflect on the links between heritage conservation and a sense of Europeanness from a historic perspective. ‘Heritage’ tends to be associated strongly with national identity and nationalism. However, after the world wars it has also increasingly been used for cultural dialogue or, as Unesco put it, to build ‘peace in the minds of men’. In Europe heritage has long been seen as ‘a powerful tool towards integration’ (Europa Nostra, 2005). When the European Parliament decided to sup- port common cultural activities in 1974, it did so notably by making 1975 the European Year of Cultural Heritage. In many countries, this initiative is today seen not only as a milestone in cross-border collaboration but also as a key catalyst for the formation of heritage move- ments at national level (Falser and Lipp, 2015) .Heritage is appealing not only because it makes tangible the movements which have overstepped political borders for centuries, but because it can enable dialogue by increasing the appreciation of cultural diversity (European Parliament, 2018). There has been reason to conclude that the multitude of pan-European heritage initiatives have achieved their community-building func- tion. A survey commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture in 2007 across France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Finland revealed that eight out of 10 Europeans found their heritage to be part of a European heritage; and 60 per cent believed that the sense of a common heritage would create a greater sense of belong- ing together. If, with regard to the economy, social services and food control, Brussels was often seen as a threat, when it came to ‘heritage’, 63 per cent of those interviewed responded that they did not feel their ‘identity’ threatened by Europe. On the contrary, 58 per cent believed that the European Union helped to preserve their cultural heritage. The fact that the feelings were then particularly strong in older member states was seen as an indication that common cultural activities were bearing fruit (IPSOS, 2007). A map of Europe by Abraham Ortelius (1527–98)

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