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Politics of development: children growing up in what world? Hatto Fischer



The politics of development and use of cultural heritage:

children growing up in what world?




Hatto Fischer


Volos Hermes Project

Athens 14.8.2006



Introduction: The world we live in

Unfortunately we live in a world which we allow to be destroyed in the name of economic development and ever more so because of wars at global scale. Such wars are waged since 9/11 in Afghanistan, Iraq in the name of a ‘global war against terrorism’ and as of late in the Middle East even under the premise of the ‘Right to defend oneself’ to let Israel attack Lebanon and vice versa the Hezbollah to launch rockets into Israel. In between or elsewhere there is Dafur and other conflict areas in Africa. All these wars bring enormous destruction upon others, more so upon innocent bystanders and in particular children. These wars are horrific because they do not merely destroy factories, houses, bridges but also by institutionalizing ‘war’ as a permanent feature in this world, they destroy prospects of peace and eliminate nonviolent ways to resolve conflicts.

What makes it worse is that these wars include in their strategies and tactics the destruction of cultural heritage especially if identified as source for another identity than the one which the defining power of war wishes to impose. That has many ramifications. There is the case of world heritage sites such as the ancient city of Babylon used by American troops as military camp with tanks grinding over its archaeological sites. Then the looting that took place at the museum of Baghdad once Iraq collapsed showed greater interest was devoted to the oil ministry than to preserving cultural artifacts of one of the oldest civilizations.

The frightening prospect is that the destruction of cultural heritage risks limiting ever more the common sense of humanity. Access to such common identity in realization all human beings are equal is furthermore restricted by cultural heritage being defined by national and other interests as if only the legacy of these and no other people. More so after having just left the Cold War behind us, the world risks being again a polarized one and in which the production of ‘enemy pictures’ evokes the creation of still more hostile images of the other. But once cultural identities cannot challenge each other and intercultural dialog does not take place, then everything not confirming to own wishes or something else coming from the other side will be interpreted as a threat. Such perception will serve to legitimize measures as arming oneself even if that risks provoking yet another round of war.

It is frightening to see that even the Geneva Convention can be interpreted in such a way that it allows the justification of bombardments of civilians and their installations, houses, hospitals, bridges etc. if said to serve a double i.e. besides the civilian a military purpose. Especially children suffer under such onslaughts since they are the most defenseless – a vast contradiction to those claiming ‘Right to defend’. It should never be forgotten that lashing out by starting yet another war means first of all killing and maiming innocent by-standers, in particular children.

All along in this false ‘global war against terrorism’ the justifications given mean but one thing: still further rationalization of war. Like any good salesman the pitch given is that war as only alternative means making forces of destruction still more efficient e.g. cluster bombs. A general inability seems to prevail to say simply ‘no’ to any killing of innocent people; in Iraq the number killed since the start of the invasion has reached by now more than 50 000 civilians and daily still more bombs go off in the most arbitrary way.

There needs to be recognized that US defense secretary Rumsfeld issued immediately after 9/11 the doctrine of ‘permanent war’. It has left the world without breathing space either before, after or in-between wars. It reverses the slogan of the ‘permanent revolution’ and exemplifies how human reason has been replaced by this kind of rationalization. Incredible is that Rumsfeld thinks that by waging war it is something the world owes to the children and future generations. 1

As if the world can be made safer by ever newer kinds of war, it is a sample of ideology or ‘public diplomacy’ (the new term for propaganda) resting on fallacy. Although obviously false since no war can make the world safer, children are forced to grow up in a world in which adults seem to have lost any sense of truth. More so people no longer seem to wish for the end of war. Any peace prospect is deemed to be highly unrealistic. When children look up to the adults and listen what they have to say on this topic, they appear to have resigned completely to the condition of permanent war. Whatever they say, it is just an excuse why they do anything about it.

If that is the case and nothing else forthcoming, then no one will know how to uphold cultural heritage: ‘memories of humanity’. Although it is the precondition for children having a future in the world, the world seems to have slipped into an ‘eternal present’ marked by the absence of memories. Orwell has described already this condition in his novel 1984. Yet childhood memories of what stories were told when they grew up and heard what the adults said, are crucial. They show how people have come together, love stories perhaps the best example. Lewis Mumford in ‘the history of the city’ describes this as the cultural function of heritage: the city. 2

Cultural heritage can be known especially through ‘oral history’: the way stories are passed on from grandfather to grandchildren in the knowledge that these children will live longer as long as they have a future. Unfortunately not only the art of telling stories is being lost today but also that children have even less of a positive future ahead of them than the generations before them. They are inheriting a world badly damaged by all developments and wars. It is noticeable from climate change affecting the ice caps to one war following the previous one while in-between ‘street fear’ raises doubts about people being able and willing to live together.

Most is due to the politics of development which intervenes and alters living conditions beyond recognition. It tends to misuse cultural heritage for its own purposes. One motive is to make still more money but at the cost of any authenticity. Forgotten in this rush to adopt all sorts of development models as prescribed by marketing strategies is that cultural heritage must be promoted and preserved in a way that allows the community retain its identity over time. It can by being consistent and ensuring cultural authenticity when making possible the human narrative.

The common memories of humanity can only be retained and passed on if stories told are convincing because truthful. It would mean cultural heritage is used to retrace history but not abused by power to legitimize power and to distort the perception of the present. It is all a matter of how cultural heritage is used to maintain ‘continuity of identity’ while enabling people and their children to adapt to changes in view of global challenges.


The Politics of Development

The politics of development presents a most elusive form of deliberation in society about future possibilities to resolve current problems like unemployment, social inequality, environmental deteriorations and international tensions. If not enough, the debate about economic development has become a conflict between believers of the welfare state in a modern version and those wishing to take full advantage of the global economy. Not clear to where such a debate and conflict shall take society, it shows less dynamic and more confusion when it comes to clarifying both the agenda and what outcomes have been attained so far by reducing development to economic growth alone.

Economic growth is not merely a percentage point in annual increases when compared with previous levels of productivity, but includes an exponential ratio comparing high income rises in China with those in the United States or Europe. A four or five percent growth rate of the economy can mean up to 35 to 45% income increases in terms of wealth, purchasing power or value of the very rich and most powerful groups of societies. There are individuals like Bill Gates but also foundations and more so investment firms alongside many other kinds of organizations which judge growth rates and successes in terms of these exponential increases. Thus it is not merely a matter of what happens as economic average where income equals to purchasing power depends on price of products and rate of inflation, but what those wealthy ones see as ‘power’ of their money and wealth in relation to others. What counts is then what happens to the relative and comparative term of power at the top level of the global society.

One person who draws attention to problems of globalization but out of a perspective of economic history is Louis Baeck who chides often enough Western economists, policy makers and intellectuals in general for not seeing, for instance, how the Islamic world sees globalization quite differently. Given the pro Western, equally egocentric stance it is hardly surprising to Louis Baeck that the European Union has not been able to resolve the two key problems: unemployment and growth rate of the economy. The failure he would attribute to a non-imaginary, indeed very bureaucratic process not leaving any room for innovation and greater efficiency when it comes to use of resources. There is this ‘arrogance’ of Western power to which the dependency upon wars to secure resources adds a special dimension of dependency that globalization is misunderstood as ‘global war against terror’.

From both a historical and an economic perspective, Louis Baeck sees development as follows:

I see development not so much as a process than as a project, contingently shaped by the actors and ideologies of succeeding historical blocs, each having their own conditions of possibility. The political emancipation of colonies, catalyzed by two rival superpowers of the early post-war period, cannot be compared to the current context of globalization under the aegis of western core actors. And the neo-liberal creed of today is an ideological sea change in comparison with the static mentality nurtured by former charismatic nation builders.3

To be sure, development in the global age has become more than ever before a built in system linked to ‘projects’ or more specifically to such ‘project development’ that positive interactions between governments and private businesses are foreseeable in near future and are expected to continue as such if incomes rise and institutional stability is guaranteed by all sorts of safeguards, including copy rights, legal framework, anti corruption drives and accountabilities. It does include the civil society insofar as NGOs do play a role in most of the development schemes even it means a new form of corruption not easily identified since covered by humanitarian motives.

Globalization is itself such an elusive term that it may help to be reminded by Louis Baeck what are the principles of but also objections to such an approach to economy and growth:

In the 1990s globalization became the vogue-word. The inherent logic of globalization is the compressing of historical time and the homogenization of geographical and cultural space. Its drive towards homogenization and standardization maximizes profit accumulation in the centre of the system; but it also disturbs local initiatives and hurts indigenous cultures. Cultural leaders in other parts of the world perceive globalization as the flagship of westernization. Furthermore, its neo-liberal inspiration with emphasis on marketisation, produces besides positive effects, asymmetric results: between the countries of the centre and the periphery, between national and transnational agents and agencies, between powerful winners and marginalized losers who remain without voice or entitlements. Up to now, the extant institutions of global governance are unable to deliver economic and financial stability and still less social justice. Reform of their organization and functioning is needed and urgent.4

What then are the reasons for the setting of the wrong priorities in the name of development or even economic growth?


UNESCO, world heritage sites and the global agenda



Destruction of cultural and natural heritage 5



Analysis of destruction and how to protect local places by reviving ‘myths of continuity in time’





Boyanno Church outside of Sofia, Bulgaria



Heritage and Transformation – beyond national heritage – integrated approach at city level



Krakow seeks new relationship between heritage and development



Cultural heritage as social capital: the role of NGOs and citizens protecting sites



Challenges and need for cultural knowledge to shape the global agenda


Heritage is bought by the rich – though sometimes the rich might be the government. This process in the built heritage sector is known as gentrification, but is well known in all sectors. But there is a similar process by which those with cultural capital (academics, curators etc.) succeed in establishing intellectual hegemony over whole areas of heritage. In other words, academics have a clear agenda in their use of the heritage that is not that of other groups. Interpretation can be viewed as the experts’ attempt to establish this intellectual control.” 6







A few observations about children in such a world


Children, youth, adolescents, teenagers etc. are all in need of special Rights, in particular the Right for love and respect (Janusz Korczak 7). Children are often more mature than adults because they are open. They have not yet a culture by which they could filter influences affecting their development and therefore face difficult, sometimes impossible choices. Of interest is that in view of the world as it presents itself with all shortcomings, any child takes on all responsibilities regardless whether it can shoulder these problems or not. They are more responsible to others than to themselves. That has consequences and needs to be balanced out over time.

All the more the need to understand how children can learn through cultural heritage, including the stories told how people faced in the past challenges and solved questions of survival. There is always a difference between past and present made apparent by what awaits children in near future. They face this future as unknown but already determined by what is indicated by this relationship between past and present to set the premises for further development.

Children do know once grown up they have to resolve as adults many of same problems but under different conditions .e.g. earning a living to feed the family. Of interest is what tension prevails in society at any given time due to this difference between immediate practical questions such as what work to take up in order to earn a living and larger questions such as why war and social poverty. Out of that tension between these two different levels attitudes towards politics are shaped.

In the absence of a general theory about social emancipation, cultural orientation linked to values of democracy seem to prevail in a local society facing all kinds of challenges, including the ‘global ones’. Mentalities are shaped accordingly but especially in terms of what is being referred to as the existence of an overall need that everyone abides to law and respect for the other as individual with equal Rights.

Children observe daily all kinds of violation of that basic value premise both in their own families but also in society at large. How they will respond and shape their moral concepts accordingly, this is not given. There are cases when children would see their parents for the first time as human beings not perfect once they find out that either mother or father has not been faithful despite the marriage vow and the meaning of family as a stable institution, while other children would after such revelation deny both the moral law of faithfulness and the parents. 8 It seems to depend on differences in philosophies with Idealism prone to reinforce such disappointments which seem to legitimize absolute denial of a reality if not conforming to the prescribed ideal. Once children and more so adolescents are disappointed, they are prone to nihilistic attitudes especially if they do not get any response to their critical ideas but are left in a void. 9

In absence of a cultural consensus about the need for childhood


If the observations of children in today’s world amount to something, then the response of children to the absence of ‘lawfulness’ means societies risk exposing them to arbitrariness. They are then prone to develop more ‘irrational’ than ‘rational attitudes’, the former implying staying for too long in a situation even if it has negative consequences. This can take the child to the point of self destruction and even suicide.

Lawfulness has to do with the existence of things in real terms but also how things are taken care of; on the contrary, the television world suggests unlimited powers and virtually everything at one’s disposal since things exist on the basis of being able to demand own Rights. Between these two different versions of the world there is no bridge, no mediation possible. It leaves children confounded by the Right to existence in one’s own Rights being obscured by this arbitrariness as if everything and nothing can exist. There is hardly any story being told that would make sense to children and the youth when it comes to dealing with the world and its people.

Of interest is that in the way things are taken care of or not (neglect of historical buildings but one such indication), society’s relationship to cultural heritage reflects to what extent there does exist a cultural consensus about the value of things and laws to which all prescribe as a way to move forward in order to make possible a life for all. The creation of such cultural consensus as value premise is the most important dimension of cultural heritage. Here basic concepts such as needs of people can conjoin in what guides children to understand and appreciate a certain development. Even more important are what experiences they make so that they can verify the assumptions they have about the world.

This process of validation is no longer possible once the cultural consensus no longer exists that childhood is needed as a way to reconcile this difference between experiencing the world anew while at the same time it is an old world in which many generations have lived throughout various civilizations. In the absence of such a consensus that a childhood is needed, the perception of what is possible within such a world changes for the worse. Like a regression to times before the free standing statue, a perception of the world without having gone through a childhood worth remembering would not have the depth and appreciation of what has become known already before and out of which many new things can follow if retold anew. That is exactly the crucial point to be made about the narratives of the world. Their very absence indicates that fewer experience childhood as a way to start rediscovering these stories about the way created a consensus in the past and what they did on the basis of such value agreement in terms of how they treated each other, the things they used for working and living, as much as how they came to terms with events happening in their time. 10

Once a world goes astray due to war and economic crisis resulting in hunger and families without a father, the pressure mounts on children to become an adult as soon as possible. That includes child soldiers or child prostitutes but equally all those new talents making news at an early age. While adults burden children with all sorts of unresolved problems and their own limitations, they do not see what this speeded up maturation process means to children: loss of a childhood.

If childhood as such is to have value for the future, it has to be remembered positively or as Freud would say ‘free of conflicts’. Children need to experience to the full their childhood years. Here they learn their basic orientation of life and begin to discover the world.

Loss of childhood means to be without real identity. The lack of identification with something positive can be attributed to lack of a memory base and that from an early age onwards. Just as cultural heritage of mankind is of great importance to society, so childhood memories for those growing up in such a world are needed. Both need to be brought together as the child grows up. This involves both formal and informal education, attending school as much as visiting museums, since learning about life means hearing all the stories from those who have gone through experiences out of which can be learned, provided there is also a willingness to learn out of failures. For only then will they as adults have a broader perspective on life and more so an international understanding of the conditions of peace because they learned already as children what collaborative work with others means.

Unfortunately there can be observed a tendency to lower the age as to when a child can be considered to be an adult. 11 Overtly it is argued that young people come to terms with the digital culture i.e. computers at a much earlier age than previous generations. Also it is argued that children are exposed already at early age to the full adult world. Everybody watches regardless of age the same movies and are lured by similar advertisements, media gags and other forms of entertainment that it does not make even sense to speak about a distinctive child or youth culture. The modern media with emphasis upon a certain type of entertainment tends to focus on the young as if the only dynamic force of society. That they are equally most vulnerable and susceptible to the lure to make quick money without need to work is not said as the overall problem of unemployment questions the need for extensive studies and more difficult learning and qualification paths. Working for the sake of humanity is considered to be a stupid thing to do.

Yet there is a downside to lowering the age as to when a child can be considered to be an adult. Often such demands by adults reflect a wish to escape criminal charges in case of sexual abuse. By transforming it into a consensual act because no longer committed with a minor these adults want to avoid being accused of child abuse. Unfortunately, not even the Catholic Church has yet made it explicit that any sex abuse will damage the child for the rest of his or her life as it will affect all later relationships adversely. It can be best described as driving the child to the extreme point of perversion of any truth and thereby come to deny what Sigmund Freud had identified as prerequisite for a healthy life: a happy sexual life.

The lowering of age has at the surface of things created an enormous media interest in ever more sensational news. Here some examples as to the consequences highlighted recently by the media:



Still, there is an international consensus that until the age of 18 any child deserves not only full protection but also needs undisturbed time and space in order to grow up. Yet if nature as natural heritage is being destroyed, where can children play in the mud and roam through forests as if Indians? And if the urban environment is devoid of any cultural heritage, especially the case in those newly constructed suburban settings where every house looks the same and no where any unique story, how can children begin to discover still traces of history? Where can they still listen to stories told by their grandparents and parents so that they can start thinking in other terms than the premeditated ones by the societies they grow up in? 12

But aside from children getting attention by the media at an ever earlier age and vice versa everything being done to prepare children for a highly competitive world from the earliest possible age on, there are some other, still more disturbing observations to be made:



Once destruction and brutality prevails due to the absence of not only social justice in both family and school, but kindness to and recognition of the other as human being absent in streets and social institutions, all kinds of ideologies will prevail to justify both the actions and radical remedies. Mostly they are suited especially for Right Wing Extremism and embody a kind of metaphysics of politics making it nearly impossible to argue for or against on rational grounds. It can be described as a confused mind trying to overcompensate own deficits with something else promising greatness. To the methods of deception can be added luring young teenagers with rock music to simplify the first contacts with the real stuff. It all begins with discarding claims of truth based on compassion for others and making everything depend upon what leading figures say in terms of an all powerful concept e.g. superiority of one’s own group. From there to outright racialism it is not far. 15

The loss of human reality and therefore the giving up of individual conscience as much the negation of practical judgment means denial of human possibilities to have a decent life and an understanding of politics in ‘rational terms’. Once politics becomes ‘irrational’, then reality is misconceived out of anger at the world. Everything is deemed as humiliating if it does not add to one’s own fiction of strength to cover up obvious weaknesses, and more so in denial of vulnerability as key human trait due to being over exploited at work and still rendered helpless, such state of affairs can easily be used by certain ideologies to let everything that stands in its way appear as potential object of destruction.

Reinforcement of irrational attitudes can be linked to the absence of any cultural heritage. Once claims of the present not only as time concept are made but as a generation in charge of things no longer wishes to be reminded about the past nor feels any sense of responsibility as outcome of that past, then the absence of such truth elements capable of contradicting bad generalizations would make possible upholding ideological claims even if absurd. As if a failure of the mind, it seems nothing convinces anymore but the irrational bent to things.

If people are to know something as being valid, then cultural heritage has to be valorized by all. Only then can it be a source of such value consensus that allows cultural mediation between past, present and future.

Once cultural heritage is reduced to ‘national’, it can be misused to tell only the national narrative and to legitimize how resources are used currently to maintain power. That includes claim to land on the basis of belonging to the royal family. Linked to that are the usual traps set if false claims about what role certain lineages play in that national narrative are upheld as a fiction. Once more powerful than any workable reality based on the equality of every individual, social injustice is perpetuated over time. For it leads to granting and accepting more Rights to acquisition and ownership of resources and property by heritage lineage than what is deemed necessary by democratic rule. The latter can only work if there are no privileged few gaining more power than the majority of people. As reform showed in Ancient Greece the power of the powerful has to be broken in time to make possible a balance of power made possible between all citizens. One obvious conclusion to be drawn out of such observation is to study still further how false claims to power are based on arguments misusing cultural heritage for the sole purpose to uphold such a claim. That is the political aspect behind use of cultural heritage which has many concerned on how especially in a Europe seeking integration can accommodate the various national narratives without binding identity seeking processes to such historical clout.

Here the freedom of interpretations of cultural heritage is needed from national claims before linkage to humanity can become an articulated identity based on common cultural heritage accessible to all. The realization of a common European identity will depend on a critical reconstructions of the past so that cultural heritage does not to serve ideologies but keeps alive ‘wonder’ (as main philosophical category of experience) about man’s life on earth. Always partial answers given to these open questions should not be taken as standing for the whole truth of humanity. It all depends on not only how stories are told. Freedom of interpretation means the ability to question any form of determination in terms of identity and outcomes of history. For this reason Ernst Bloch added the ‘heritage of these times’ as the outcome of how this present time is lived while realizing what tension there exists to both the past and the future. At any time in history, the present being lived is something not yet fully know as of yet but it has the potential to become something and like any art work its full value will only be realized in future. 16

In that sense, cultural heritage being interpreted by museums and stories told is an integral part of an ongoing historical introspection. In cultural terms it is a part of ongoing reflections by mankind with regards to its ‘memories of the future’. The two aspects make up a common practice linking informal and formal learning processes about how the institutional set-up of society serves the purpose of ensuring a continuity of life of not only the individual, but of society and its institutions. This means cultural heritage is something to be perceived as learning from how societies used to organize themselves in the past and out of which something of ‘vital interest’ can be learned for an ongoing present about the shape the destiny for the future. By the same token, it means learning process as receptivity of past experiences cannot be reduced to mere necessity since vital needs go beyond such limited sets of categories and invoke other interests with very different sets of categories due to an ‘elan vital’ being a constituting element of a present very much alive and interested in what took place in the recent as much as in the ancient past. 17

If understanding cultural heritage presupposes the working through of memories of the past as passed on by many stories in order to become, then such a conscious effort to come to terms with the history of man has nothing to do with cults based on legends e.g. the Nazis using Teutonic monuments to revitalize the Germanic mythology as a kind of mystic identity bondage. 18

Without the freedom to experience oneself as human being, people will loose in social orientation and desire for lack of recognition only what the rich and powerful enjoy already, namely social status and the privileges which go with it. Rather than sharing with others, they will be driven by envy and bitterness since they know under normal circumstance they will never be able to attain that same status. Hence their common base will be resentment and a fear to be weak if not in coalition with the stronger ones and protected by a strong state. That leaves them without any cultural heritage basis.

Children growing up in such a milieu without any positive models except some elusive hero figure who stands up to these conditions of injustice and social inequality will not see and go beyond such cult figures. How then differences between imagined and real solutions will play out, here the study by Horkheimer and Adorno about the makings of the ‘authoritarian personality’ can guide further reflections on this subject matter. 19

Depending what linkage between childhood memories and cultural heritage can be made, it will determine greatly the path taken by these and other children as they become adolescents and still later adults having to come to terms with such a world they seek to leave behind but more often cannot escape. There are not only the poverty cycles but also the rich who will perpetuate themselves often in a negative sense e.g. the Bush family and the illegal practices of sons who have a rich father to cover up their tracks until they know themselves how to stay a step ahead whenever they break the law.

In reality, fear of authority (law) will be matched by servitude and suppressed hate, if not devious ways to circumvent both people and law to serve own ends. Children who grow up in such families unable to articulate alternatives to such a strict order based on discipline and faithfulness to the leader will tend to copy that in their own more extreme fashion. 20 It is a vain effort to stay in their belief more sincere and true to the cause than their parents. Often children want to continue there where the parents have given up or left things undone. Oddly enough what is passed on and adopted to suit newer conditions, such as reading and other working skills, is a part of cultural heritage as well. If not corrected over time, it seems certain flaws and mistakes are perpetuated. How then undo the knots and avoid foregone conclusions. The problem is that this struggle against all kinds of determinisms is also a fight against limitations both real and set by society e.g. like your father you will become an alcoholic. Dostoevsky examined his own inclination towards a ‘gambler’ while others think in terms of their parents as unresolved conflicts because of having them never addressed openly and in a way so that both sides can come to terms with what is demanded not only of each individually but of the special father-son or mother-daughter relationship (or vice versa as the gender specifics can be altered).

Yet if more neglect than over protection leaves children exposed to reality before they have developed a culture to deal with all these challenges, they act out a hope- and helplessness that sends them crashing into all kinds of barriers. This is because they are without resistance. By giving in even though with more self confidence and some positive alternatives they would have stood their ground, these inner defeats and failures, socially speaking, they will look at themselves negatively. At the same time it exposes these children to massive generalized sweeps of identity claims under some common cause e.g. from doing something for society to becoming a soldier in Viet Nam (J.F. Kennedy, Johnson, R. Nixon). Mostly they end up joining a cause to make the state become still stronger, even if it means going to war. They want something which gives them meaning in a world known otherwise to be devoid of all meanings. They succumb then all too easily if not to highly manipulative slogan used by Bush who claims through the ‘war against terrorism’ to make ‘our great nation still stronger and safer’, then to the very opposite as was once the slogan ‘destroy what destroys you’ of those taking up arms against the state e.g. from Baader-Meinhof group emerging out of the failure of the ’68 protest movement to those joining the insurgency in Iraq and elsewhere deemed as world wide terrorism.

By being disorientated and disgusted from an early age with their immediate surroundings, they are dangerously ready to revolt more often negatively than positively. As repeatedly cases of children wishing to break out of the narrow confines of their families testify, they end up joining causes promising a different life when in fact they end up like the German writer Guenter Grass with the SS at the age of seventeen. Often they do it without realizing really in what mess both morally and physically speaking they will end up in. This is to say the critical level of children being over demanded involves many facets. As a matter of fact adults and the real world complicate things still further just when children are about to make crucial decisions and begin to transform themselves into adults.

At that crucial point in time children growing up face the biggest challenge of it all, namely whether or not to join the adult world under its conditions or decide not to conform but go instead against it. The philosopher Juergen Habermas would say all ‘either/or’ alternatives are wrong ones 21 but then to make things worse adults demand of the children not to go against the world they have constructed but to join them in a what has become a way of life. Little is said that this requires acceptance of small and sometimes even bigger lies. The closer this gets to real power and decision making processes which do matter, adults demand of the children that they join in on a general ‘conspiracy against truth’ before being accepted by the adults as fellow adults, that is mature enough to be capable of making own decisions but only such which do not direct their efforts away from the existing world but more towards upholding such an order e.g. by serving as soldier in the army to protect the country. Of interest is that the term ‘maturity’ takes on another meaning as a result of such conspiracy. For it will include the ability to go against the inner most conscience and inclinations to stick to the truth no matter the consequences rather than accept any compromise as many children have seen already in their parents as to what this leads to, namely resignation and disenchantment in life.


Conspiracy against the truth as entry point into adult life


Conspiracy against the truth’ is therefore a real problem but it seems in terms of cultural heritage except for studies about ‘civil courage’ not much else exists in terms of museums which contrary to glorifying war would show war resisters and the need to question power whenever about to make ill fated decisions.

Instead of gaining orientation out of cultural heritage when the time comes for the youth to enter adulthood, it seems that they have first to assure the world of the adults that they no longer pose any threat to them. It will mean they will not challenge the adults in what they are already doing in this world e.g. working for a weapon producing company. If the youth growing up fails to protest and to question unethical principles of work, more and more they too will feel the loss of reality and end up just like their parents giving up the demand of any truth. Interestingly enough in Germany maturity is defined as resigning in reason based on the political insight there is no point to rebelling against such structures allowing even shipment of arms to Israel at the height of yet another, the Sixth Middle East War. The same goes for Israel’s request to have cluster bombs by which they can strike back at Hezbollah rocket launchers but which can maim civilians due to its deadly side impact according to Human Rights Watch. 22

As the example of Sparta in Ancient Greece exemplifies, the youth prior to being admitted into the circle of the elderly had to do something from which they would never recover. The youth of Sparta had to live for three days amongst the ‘helots’ and then after killing one of them get out before the other slaves found out. After having killed a slave they could never challenge the militant and aggressive attitude of the adults. Now they had done something terrible and therefore could no longer speak out against violations of human law. Upon entry into the circles of the elderly they had become already a part of this conspiracy against truth which alone would allow questioning the initiation rite or any other of the brutal practices in the state of Sparta.

Of interest is that Socrates was committed by the Polis for having corrupted the minds of young people, but then while awaiting his own trial outside the Polis, he did manage to convince a young man not to accuse his father in front of the Polis for having murdered another man because just a slave and therefore treated differently by law of the Polis. Why did Socrates want to convince the youth to uphold this dual law or a law with two different measures?

It seems the ‘conspiracy against truth’ is practiced in almost all societies especially when linked to war as way to defend itself. For example, memorial services with war veterans praise the heroes but ensure at the same time that the real memory about the cruelty and injustices of war are blended out. By claiming to do something great for the nation, it means that soldiers who do the actual killing in war and more so the commanders issuing the orders can never be questioned. That would be something unpatriotic. And even more so everyone can claim just to have followed orders.

More and more human truths no longer count, but legacies are spun and therefore the stories told but fabrications or even worse lies since none of these actions can be justified. It should not be overlooked that those doing things against humanity fear most of not being only found out but in being challenged by those still innocent: the children. They are still free in their conscience as long as they have not committed a ‘crime against humanity’.

There is an example of conspiracy of silence at work in the recent story of a boy missing in Veria, Greece. The boy has not been found since gone missing in June 2006. Alone that one picture with children looking on from behind a school window while the police comb the area can tell something of the frightening aspect not to be captured by Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’.


School children looking on. Source: Kathimerini



Originally five boys confessed to have killed this boy: a gifted immigrant child who had come from Russia and was near the top of his class. Since the news broke due to protest by the mother (she had missed already her boy for several days), and the police arrived, no real progress has been made in the investigation. The search and questioning by the police, psychologists and prosecutor of the children and the adults connected to them the closest, has continued. Yet it seems that a silence by all adults or of the whole community has been stone walling against all inquiries. In addition, the five boys have withdrawn their earlier confession while a mother is still missing her child.

The problem of violence can be linked to children forced to grow up in a world without truth and social justice no longer the principle of good practice. Arbitrary power and lack of freedom leads to mistaking identification of judgment with punishment and victims no longer able to question the motives of those who did it. The latter seem to have always the power to define who is the guilty one or more so if identified as a threat justify the going to extremes, including killing. The frightening thing is the tendency towards lynch justice by modern states especially in their use of the method of political assassination. There is no justice just punishment or more severe the death penalty executed immediately once a person has been identified by power as the guilty one e.g. Israel identifying Hamas militant leaders as having organized suicide bombers. It leaves out the usual civil right of ‘not being guilty’ until proven otherwise and this to be done in court where witness are heard and judges contribute to making this into fair trial. But in this in-between war and enacting upon the fear of terrorism the accuser e.g. the state of Israel has no longer such burden of proof in the ‘global war against terrorism’.

As communities go astray in materialistic cultures of consumption and ‘street fear’ making public places unsafe, it becomes also evident that ever busy parents have no real time for children. If children do not end up sitting in front of television or just play video games, then they go astray due to education not offering real orientation. Much time is wasted or rather consumed with importance given to the car as symbol of economic success despite this vehicle in its massive use destroying still more the environment. How to get out of the contradictions of such a world? Children ask but hardly get any answer.

The worst cases of children suffering in this world are the ones who are if not killed or maimed, then exploited from an early age on. If not through sex tourism and child trafficking then by being forced to do all kinds of child labors as the case with the camel jockeys in the Arabic world.





Twenty-two child camel jockeys who returned from the United Arab Emirates


Coming to terms with horrific images


The state of affairs on the planet is becoming more and more fearful. Hypocrisy is making me shake my head back and forth all the time. Disagreeing with why and how murder can continue, and now with the report that should have come out at the beginning of the war in Iraq, that soldiers were killing and torturing civilians, a repetition of images seen during the My Lai massacre cannot leave me, with media images of coloured blankets draping the civilians on the floor, killed by u.s. marines in Iraq. My head shakes in disbelief. Blix is asking for a ban on nuclear weapons, that the U.S. will not follow the lead to. Mass protests must follow this. I doubt an art show can change things, but a seed of how many artists are making political works on current affairs, does speak for the larger population.


Eleftheria Lialios, Video Artist at

Chicago Art Institute, 2006



Since 9/11 and until the 6th War in the Middle East in July 12th until August 14th 2006, images of children having either been killed or as part of those seeking shelter are flashed across the screens as yet another breaking news report says after the bomb went off so many were killed, left homeless or are unaccounted for. In an article written by Warren Hoge, the New York Times brings simultaneously two images: to the right a boy seeking refuge in a bomb shelter in Israel due to the threat posed by the Hezbollah shooting rockets into Israel while his counterpart, and to the left a boy around the same age sleeps in Beirut overnight outside, in a car, for fear of more bombs from Israeli war planes. 23

What these images going around the world in less than a flash of a second convey, no one is quite certain. But once the images of those planes crashing into the Twin Towers of New York are shown over and again, and then in the next frame of pictures people are to seen as they run screaming down the streets to escape the collapse of the towers, this setting has its own paradigm. Used to justify a certain set of policy by leaving out the sequences of events leading up to that incidence they are cut-out from reality. As such the stories of the people in the streets have any impact upon them. Only during the first few hours of breaking news some disorder makes possible that some authentic stories sicker through e.g. how much rent a month the man charged to those who were in Florida to attend the flying school. But soon official versions take a hold and things are told only in conjunction with one and the same set of images as if they have a story of their own to tell. Jean Baudrillard says such images are ‘loaded up with so much energy’ that they befall the minds by taking ‘hostage the event itself’.24 They do not let anyone to think of anything else but of this incidence. If the ‘media is the message’, so are more precisely the images selected to tell but one side of the story.

The film about 9/11 by Oliver Stone is said to be authentic as it was produced with two survivors on location to give advice. But then it serves the propaganda purpose of not only keeping the memories fresh but equally the wounds open. And as long as raw materials are shown in such a way, it is a part of how the media operates as part of the political business to deceive the public. This can be seen immediately when the wife of one man who had died in the Tower said her husband did not live the life he did in order to die and become a ‘victim’ which would justify the going to war.

All the imagines used to spread news, and thereby overpowering quite easily the imagination, prevent any empathy from being developed since the declaration of being a victim lets everyone forget to make any critical analysis. It allows just vindication or an act of revenge. The reaction in the Islamic world to the cartoons of a Danish newspaper shows how easily mass hysteria can be incited especially if accompanied by a punitive language. The public space is then over dominated by these images making sure no practical discourse can take place and thereby no contradiction can ever be named, never mind be worked through to establish at public level a sense of consistency with both basic human values and goals like the just society. This means imagines replace rational measures needed for further mediation between the expected and the possible to be realized. By over expectancy being followed by disappointment because the images prove to be greater than reality, it leaves people with the feeling of not being able to do undertake anything to improve the situation. After all if the threat is so absolute then it is suggested let the experts handle all security issues. What was before solely the police patrolling the streets all empty at night for fear of a robbery is now in the cyber space a similar disenfranchisement. Only now that what goes on in reality is delegated to unknown spaces as the terrorist to be hunted down has no concrete face or a state in which he is at home.

It is sufficient to say that most of these images distort reality or makes it increasingly harder for children to judge the difference between reality and fiction. The latter as image or sound bite, further made to appear as authentic by having reporters ‘embedded’ with the troops moving towards Baghdad, pushes fiction as contrast to reality aside and establishes as ‘virtual reality’ itself. It does so in an unknown way. Evident is that these images reside in the sub-consciousness of the viewer without knowing what will be the long term impact. One suggestion is that it contributes to a ‘shallowness of culture’ with things and events being judged with a split attitude: on the surface disgust is expressed when seeing many children are killed in a war, but underneath the surface other factors play a role e.g. fascination and an odd attraction to seeing how killing especially of innocent ones can be that easy. That is made plausible by many action films produced by Hollywood since a star like Dick Walker can kick the bad guys to the ground, twist even their heads around till they snap at the neck, and then walk away, smiling, if only to embrace a second later his sweetheart. This rapid transition from violence to paradise is hardly what people manage in real life. The soldiers returning from war find it hard to reintegrate themselves in society, if they ever make it as shown by Vietnam veterans.

The world of images has another aspect to it. Their ‘virtual reality’ is presented in such a convincing way as if it is possible to sit in the living room and still be a witness of a war going on in far away places like Afghanistan or Iraq. The images as part of a war unraveling in front of your eyes become more than mere pictures of the war a pseudo participatory element. There is the subtle form of conspiracy against any truth: by looking on and not doing anything about the war, it becomes a tacit acceptance of war. It leaves children grasping for breath. They will go to bed deeply perturbed and unable to do such ‘dream work’ (S. Freud) which would allow them to put behind these images and still look forward to running the next day through the streets since happy to be alive. The images rob them above all of any feeling of innocence.

The transition in children can be observed on hand of a simple reaction. When still very young response to first signs of violence on the television screen will be fear. They will break out in tears. Unable to distinguish between film and reality they take it to mean something terrible is happening. That is especially the case if a child dies in the film or even worse if a corpse of a child is shown by the camera covering the latest bomb attack on Beirut. At that age the children will run out or want the television to be turned off. Parents will console the child. But often they will keep the film running. After all this is the reality to which the child should get accustomed to. Maybe they will try to convince but with rather helpless arguments that it is only something on television, something not existing here in the living room nor out in the streets. And more and more the initial reaction to stop all violence will make way to sitting for hours in front of television and who knows what the child sees in both films and advertisements without having any tools so that it could decode these images.

The simple imitation of ‘bang, bang, you’re dead’ played in the backyard as part of a Cowboy-Indian chase will no longer do. Those images are more real because they are powerful. What is to be grasped is their manipulative side based on being able to neutralize as much reactions as to steer everything in a certain direction e.g. ‘go bomb them’. At school or in college students in America can then speak about Iraq as if a part of their own territory in need of bringing brought under control. Over identification is the rule rather than the exception. That repeats what any child can say that once grown up he will become a great fighter and safe the nation. Nothing more is natural to a child then to take on tasks meant to safeguard something it loves in an unknown way. It can be connected to making the own mother feel happy because secure. Intuitively children engage themselves in such projections always as heroes. Often they become fire fighters always rushing to the scene to extinguish the flames. In reality they may suffer under sexual fantasies according to S. Freud, but in their own reality they fight with more than just shadows. They feel the fear of their parents but cannot come to terms with it since the adults do not talk about these things.

The natural extension of such para-military thinking in the case of American students talking like generals eager to serve the country is to leave out completely the fact that entry into Iraq is an occupation of another country. The images have contributed towards making these cultural and political differences disappear since everything can be replaced by global images that appear everywhere to be the same but happen to differ in terms of what is happening at the very same moment on the ground. 25

Once the validation of the virtual world goes so far that any reality can be blended out, people and especially children end up being absorbed by this world of mere images. It has become more real to them than reality. In face of such a development several questions need to be asked:


  1. Can such simulation of reality be countered by measures working with the child’s imagination?

  2. What are the indications that society and in particular families know how to revoke the powerful influences of images by ensuring a reprise is possible due to such sanctuaries that quietness and silence are not unsettling and met with violence out of fear to be all alone?

  3. Are schools and other places of formal and informal learning such as museums capable to give children the tools to decipher these images?


Decoding these images and yet learning to move through the world without being distracted by them is nowadays nearly impossible. Even in open streets there are beside billboards, street signs, advertisements many more such ‘urban screens’ that scream out virtually still other images. As a matter of fact the entire phenomenon of ‘urban screens’ is a higher level of artistic endeavor to counter the influence of the media language while at the same time they promote as part of a virtual excursion through the city the digital culture. 26

Given the one sided dependency upon the images of virtual reality, it is not going to be easy to come to terms with ‘human reality’ as lived daily by millions of people. There are many, too many deeply disturbed children growing up. They are all unsure. What they can imagine will be limited by all these imposing and prevailing images. Indicative is the heavy inclination to cartoon like distortions or outer space monsters only to be translated by Steven Spielberg in a nearly human creature learning to enter human language by uttering as first sound ‘autsch’. Pain experienced when a finger is pricked reminds that certain sounds are deeply ingrained in the psyche and therefore a key to entering the mind. This is how stories are told by writers working for Hollywood and it works almost all the time. Such touches are indifferent to location i.e. whether it happens out there or in here. The consequence is that no one is sure anymore of time and location while space becomes a floating fiction. Children with their imagination can more easily run in and out of these floating imaged spaces and still overcome the doubts of adults having become already passive i.e. without resistance to such a world dominated by images. Take the red can of coca-cola and it is known what is ingrained over time. Such irremovable icon has replaced the view of the church tower in the villages of the past. Consequently these and further experiences add to the growing unease of all people as to what this world is coming to.

It certainly means children witnessing such a world will be traumatized and no one can predict how they will deal with these inner wounds once themselves adults. There is reason to think that again ideologies can be used to make revenge the only law valid in a world knowing apparently no justice and which has no way to safeguard innocent lives, in particular that of children. Sad in this is that one source of ‘revenge’ is an unlived life. This is the case of children when having been emerged in mere images without experiencing really their childhood as a discovery of the real world. In the end they are the ones posing a huge problem since lost children.


The problem of lost children


To understand the problem of lost children, a small observation at the outset may provide a key of understanding what is meant by being lost. Not the child lost in the crowd after having become separated from the parents like so many when families visit fairs or festivals with many crowding into the streets. Nor is meant a lost child because it has been abducted although that poses a problem to parents, police and society especially if connected as in the late nineties in Belgium to pedophiles and posters of every child missing appearing at every entrance to train or metro stations. Rather it is the simple matter of a child waiting for some time at the fringe of a playground filled with children all playing, shouting, running, etc. The child waits at the fringe for a moment when it can release itself and suddenly stands up and runs into the playground to soon disappear amongst the waves of children. It is as if plunging into the sea of happy laughter. When over it seems as if the child pulls itself out of the maze of other children by means of an invisible rope. It pulls itself back to land as a way to remind itself who it was before plunging into that sea. For the child knows there is a risk to loose itself and then never find the way back.

Identity building processes have never been discussed in terms of a child needing to loose itself in order to regain after the experiences made in the world of others its own identity. That identity will no longer be the same since there are now the new experiences just made. But there is a need for a continuity of identity and therefore the need to recognize what was the identity before running off to dive into the waves created by the children playing altogether.

Freud called that ‘invisible rope’ the memory track to be remembered by stepping into the feelings as they come up to the surface very much like the bubbles of a diver. What distinguishes children from adults is that children are all about memory tracks while adults sit inside of systems which prevent them from experiencing the feelings. The will burst like those bubbles when coming up and hitting the bottom of the system sitting there like a big pot with the adults inside. Freud said clearly for adults to experience their feelings they must step out of the system and into these feelings as they come up. By following these feelings, they will again discover the ‘memory track’.

Children need to live in freedom if they are to bring together the different memory tracks in order to create their identities in terms of their own potentialities and not merely in what the world communicates to them in various forms as to what is possible. Albert Camus describes this identity in the making as ‘l’homme revolte’. Indeed, children are in constant revolt against what their parents and other peers tell them will not work, is not allowed, cannot be done, makes no sense while all that what adults celebrate as great feats is but a petty compliance with the rules of the system wishing to separate the winners from the losers as the only purpose of the school system. 27

There are general conditions having an impact upon children but also specific reasons such as what schools are turning out to be in order to explain why children are lost in this world:






Deprivation and neglect means social bonds are weak and the emotional side of a child not at all addressed. It is hardly conceivable but children never experiencing love and care will themselves be able to pass on any human empathy to their own children once grown up and when beginning a family life of their own. The reason is that they have become conformists by definition and cannot deal with reality when their own children begin to revolt.

Broken homes as background and being a social outcast has been portrayed in the most powerful way by Kenneth Loach in his film ‘Cathy come home’. 30 It is the story about homeless people and became a social outcry against a society ignoring the plight of the homeless. It has lead in the UK to the creation of ‘Shelter’ to take on the plight of exactly these people.

In another film called ‘Kes’ Kenneth Loach talks about a boy from a mining town having nothing but a wild bird, a hawk, as friend. The story about this bird breaks the boredom of the classroom for suddenly there is something interesting to catch everyone’s attention. Everyone sits up and listens. But then new problems awaited him at home. Instead of betting on a horse which won the race as had his elderly brother instructed him, the boy uses the money to buy food for ‘Kes’. That has terrible consequences for in such a world the dream to escape fate is ever more rigorously attached to money as fake solution for everything. That is explainable when there is none available.

Of interest is when seeing those typical streets of a mining town in Northern England and the milkman delivering early in the morning the bottles, cultural heritage of the industrial age becomes a physical existence under severe restrictions. The smoking chimneys which pollute the entire town are a symbol for that.


What is lost when growing up?


The amazing aspect of children is that they do try to become responsible whether asked or not. Interesting is to observe that when they listen to what parents and other adults are saying as to what is going on in the world, they develop concepts of the world based on their understanding of morality and what might be a solution. 31 By growing up they will be more convinced in these solutions as they have lived them through and questioned these solutions from as many angles as possible. By not being yet responsible for what goes on in the world, they can and do develop ideas about what they will do once in a position to undertake something against, for example, pollution of rivers, AIDS, poverty in the third world, need for renewable energy etc. Solutions are found by defining the problem in need to be solved more precisely.



Children in Afghanistan with hardly anything to eat

Discovering the world and learning how to survive in it is an ongoing questioning process resting on assumptions, perceptions and evaluation of approaches taken so far to resolve things. The reformulation of original questions and perceptions needs to be precise if a learning process is to take place. Children must be made also aware that not every solution will work under any condition but only certain ones. That means learning out of failure becomes important and therefore the need to overcome initial disappointments requires more than just stamina. It will require philosophical reflections as a way of crying and consoling oneself at one and the same time.

Every new generation will have that chance to make a difference to the previous one. Even farmers are advised by the village preacher during one of his sermons up in the Austrian mountains to listen to their sons when they come back from schools for agriculture since they have a new understanding of how to deal with technology. It begins with the use or not of a tractor instead of horses for plowing the fields and transporting other things the farm needs.

Naturally it means in turns younger generations are clearly the target groups of companies when it comes to sell new products and in an overall sense youth are educated to embrace a certain viewpoint of the world that is conducive to a certain way of doing politics. From upholding values of democracy to a certain foreign policy it has to do with socialization and as Ernst Bloch, the German philosopher would say, with the risk that especially ‘young people catch very easily right wing fire’. This can be explained that young people can be inflamed especially if they see injustice not being responded to enough by present politics.

In either case, insights gained by maturing while free by growing into the world gradually or else being affected by some political ideologies and solutions being propagated at the time, there is a double risk for these children to loose their independence when inheriting the world but with the wrong political tools helping to reproduce just a conformist pattern. It requires still a much greater maturity to question abuse of power. And if thrown into strict survival within the adult world right away there will be no chance given to develop over time any solution nor will these children enjoy any support.

All that applies even more so to children who cannot complete childhood because they are already at an early age subjected to various forms of child abuse.


Poverty of experience



As a matter of fact, what a child experiences when growing up determines what it will do in future. It will be the material by which to link identity with whatever actions is perceived as being conceivable and compatible with social reality at one and the same time.

While growing up the social experiences made are equally crucial. It begins on how people treat each other, but also if justice and freedom prevails in the family, at school, in the streets and in society at large. Dealing with the poor as much as coming to terms with the handicapped and those with special needs are just as important for the formation of social justice as is the readiness to intervene whenever someone else is treated unjustly by others. All that will set standards for future practices. Almost all children have a strong sense of justice but once violated will turn their forces against that notion by joining gangs or else doing illegal things.

Especially children growing up in families praying ‘law and order’ while using physical and psychological violence to punish children when daring to question the authorities of the parents, will have already committed many criminal acts by twelve. Of interest is that a state at war will legitimize precisely those actions since now a part of the fighting method. It says a lot about the relativity of ethics for what a civil society in peace with itself would name as ‘crime against humanity’, a state at war would legitimize such actions. The problem is that the perversion of values begins already at an early age when the mother admires her man in uniform telling the son about his great deeds and still dreaming to make his career by climbing up in the military hierarchy for the sake of improving the life of his life. That more success means the cost of more lives seems hardly to hit home until too late.

Next to lived through experiences as making a difference in real consciousness when relating to reality, there is a need to create through use of cultural heritage a continuity of identity with humanity. It takes time for solutions to be found, hence only in the long run realizable and here peace as most fragile, equally crucial common good. It indicates that due to global challenges affecting daily life in all aspects, many people cannot cope with change. Here cultural tools are becoming ever more crucial on how people can deal with change. As this needs to be passed on to children, more emphasis needs to be given to such ‘informal learning processes’ than what formal education can do in such a case.

Indeed, children learn more on how to deal with changes over time when visiting with their school classes or with their parents or friends museums and cultural heritage sites. It will let them discover things their immediate world does not contain nor would ever remind them that there are still other forms of knowledge linked to quite different forms of living and work e.g. the Industrial age.

But when no such preservation of cultural heritage makes such knowledge accessible, and by contrast hunger and lack of future eat away at their time and leave ever more children without any heritage, then they loose what they need for life: a happy childhood to look back upon once they have grown up. When hunger and war makes the life of children into a real plight, it is the lack of future that clouds their otherwise friendly faces and lets deep worries and fear creep into their eyes. Lost children are the ones without childhood to look back to once adults. They are even adult children before they had the time to grow up.

The role of museums in the 21st century



Children of the 21st century





Tangible and intangible cultural heritage: the narrative of life

The true cultural heritage of humanity, namely a love and compassion for people, has become a rare commodity or rather resource. Few convincing stories are told about other people.


The loss of the narrative due to cultural hegemony – skewed values of unchallenged interpretations


How stories are told? The Fritzcarraldo Institute organized Feb. 2005 a conference about “story telling in museum context”. The aim was to expound upon the narrative as not merely protecting cultural heritage, but as a way to tell and explain the meaning of the works left behind as they are a testimony to human activity.

The reason for focusing on the need to preserve heritage through story telling and therefore keep the freedom of interpretation has to do with control over cultural heritage being exerted by experts, including academics. Hence another practice is needed which enables people and in particular children to ask further going questions about the objects collected and presented in not only a certain way but in such sequence as to establish a narrative line.


Heritage is bought by the rich – though sometimes the rich might be the government. This process in the built heritage sector is known as gentrification, but is well known in all sectors. But there is a similar process by which those with cultural capital (academics, curators etc.) succeed in establishing intellectual hegemony over whole areas of heritage. In other words, academics have a clear agenda in their use of the heritage that is not that of other groups. Interpretation can be viewed as the experts’ attempt to establish this intellectual control.” 32


Dialogue with the past – creating the stories or the art of communication outside schools, inside museums or other informal learning situations


The philosopher Juergen Habermas articulated the thesis that the reconstruction of the past is impossible. He may have said incomplete and lacking something especially if items found from the past do not stir enough our imagination by which we can formulate some learning hypothesis to guide us when probing further and gathering in as much experiences as abilities to tell a story connected with that object.

Interestingly enough Thomas Cahill in wishing to answer the question ‘Why the Greeks Matter’ believes that:

History must be learned in pieces. This is partly because we have only pieces of the past which give us glimpses of what has been but never the whole reality.”

Consequently he follows the methodology of imagining the real by intuitive guesses so that he can begin to tell the story:


I assemble what pieces there are, contrast and compare, and try to remain in their presence till I can begin to see and hear and love what living men and women once saw and heard and loved, till from these scraps and fragments living men and women begin to emerge and move and live again – and then I try to communicate these sensations to my reader.” 33



While children are like fish who do not know they swim in water while we adults “are seldom aware of the atmosphere of the times through which we move, how strange and singular they are.” This means a need to overcome being oblivious to things although they form the context of understanding. Here the lessons of categories combine to how we learn not only to put things in already given drawers but to let things come towards us. It means basing story telling on such methods as historical archaeology and realizing that “when we approach another age, its alienness stands out for us, almost as if that were its most obvious quality, and the sense of being on alien ground grows with the antiquity of age we are considering.”

It is ‘oral tradition’ by which a first contact is made with these other worlds e.g. a mother passing on to a child sayings she has heard her grandmother saying: “You never know who’ll take the coal off your foot, when it’s burning you” (an Irish saying about courtship)


At the cross roads of civilizations: use of multi media





Cultural actions - KIDS’ GUERNICA in Lebanon


Foreshadows of a looming, still larger war, will be the case once the nuclear issue gets out of control. The Sixth Middle East War has virtually powerful forces knocking not at heaven’s gate but in what can be assumed shall be a next target if Iran does not modify its approach to its uranium enrichment program and therefore in built up of missiles and other technologies needed to have the atomic bomb.


Picasso’s Guernica


Picasso – the child as early genius


Of course, you can have it also the other way around. When Picasso started to draw, his father gave it up although a teacher of art since he was intimidated by what were Picasso’s talents. Interestingly enough Picasso said about himself he never painted like a child for right away he painted what he saw. He added, child-like expressions are lost when children grow up.

Picasso said painting differs from music. While in the case of music you can have child wonders like Mozart, in painting this gift of childhood cannot be carried over into adulthood, for if you want to become a true painter, so Picasso, once an adult you have to start off all over again.

An interesting connection is when children are perceived as ‘giants’ like Picasso (Spyros Mercouris) since they do give today as many answers to war as did Picasso to Guernica. This has been made explicit by the Kids’ Guernica movement. 34


KIDS’ GUERNICA 2005 in Ubub, Bali



Kabul, Afghanistan



The Kids’ Guernica movement has made possible, for example, a painting by school children in Kabul, Afghanistan. As a matter of fact it was the first time that children had paints in their hands after 24 years of war. The painting (7,8 x 3,5 m) shows on the one side an airplane dropping bombs, on the other a harmonious setting with two people holding hands and looking in the direction of a mountain landscape painted in harmonious colors of peace. This split world in two is what many children perceive as the difference between the reality they live in and what they wished for.





Never again War” Kids Guernica Painting from Kabul, Afghanistan 2005




Fatemaz Nawez from Afghanistan and who did this painting with the children in Kabul, said these children had never before the chance to paint. For such a long time no art education was given. No wonder then that too many children wanted to join in on the action. She had to shut the door in order to prevent more children from coming into the room where the ones lucky enough to get a paintbrush were painting away.

They call the painting ‘never again war’ but Afghanistan after four years of American occupation has become dissatisfied. Many promises have not been kept, and the military is abusing its extra powers while war lords, Talibans and other extremists take up the arms whenever possible. It leaves civilians and especially children in the cross fire. That is also the case of paintings coming from countries like Nepal where violation of the children rights has been a chronic part of that country’s power struggle as reported by amnesty international and only finding some glittering of mediation in 2006 after countless street demonstrations brought down both government and the monarchy overruling until then any desire for democracy.

War torn countries and societies stricken by poverty all spell trouble for children. They are forced into child labor instead of given education and sex tourism instead of experiencing true love exposes them to the perversions of adult life. Once children are without parental and social protection their exposure to all kinds of peril intensifies. Since the fathers have gone to war and their mothers risking rape once they leave the refugee camps or even have to offer sex in exchange for food, they have no hold on hands which would protect them.

Repeatedly children without any parents are forced to go into the street to earn money with whatever means in order to feed the smaller brothers and sisters. It begins with selling cigarettes but does not stop there. When the rain comes they seek shelter near tunnels or railway stations until the police come to drive them away. Without sleep and no real food they quiver in their bodies gone frail and weak.



















The War is over!”


Unusual is that these paintings are all of the size of Picasso’s original Guernica painting, that is 7,8 x 3,5 meters. Here ‘War is over’ by PkP.



POIEIN KAI PRATTEIN in Kastelli, Crete April 24 – 28, 2006



Freeing dreams from reality to give back to reality new optimism






New Zealand – painting by 2 – 3 year olds



Details matter in a big picture – like people holding hands


Also the focus on the ecological conditions of life on earth






Cultural action as tool of reflection – noticing what is happening in our immediate world while looking at the community as a whole


Graffiti in Kastelli, Crete


Or photo of a local situation


With sketches by Asit Poddar – Mother and Child with Bicycle


The dignity of small existence

Making possible experiences of people and children


From Afghanistan to Iraq to Nepal to Palestine to Lebanon – where will it all end?


Children Rights in war zones – Sachi – dialogue between city and village children – at the foothills of the Himalayas –



If children fail to connect through cultural heritage during their early years with the memories of humanity, they will not connect to human aspiration and instead loose out on a vital orientation. When it comes to seeking and to finding solutions, knowledge is to be gained by recognizing what generations and civilizations before the present one have tried and often failed. That learning process is vital for innovation as learning from the past allows present generations to shape the future differently. It might not be better in the end or new solutions bring with them new problems e.g. alternative energy but a different landscape some don’t like for reasons of both sound and destruction of a free view. Still, without the constraint of cultural heritage as framework the work on solutions would have no practical guidelines. Here an answer must be found at all times to the forces of destruction connected with war, irresponsible construction and development while not safeguarding the interest of future generations.

In seeing how children and cultural heritage often does not connect although the question but what world will children inherit is a crucial one, one answer must be given to how things are presented and narrated. Too often the academics control the agenda and leave out the obvious contradiction while some prestige project has been singled out for political reasons to demonstrate success in preserving and promoting cultural heritage, right next door destruction of beaches by new tourist related developments is going on. Clearly such narratives are not convincing if they do not deal with a contradictory reality and attempt to come to terms with the negative side of development.

Preservation and promotion of cultural heritage is no easy task but if the modern media is to be involved, impact of images and virtual worlds upon how children develop and shape their own ideas must be taken into account. Here schools and museums must work together to find a complementary approach to formal and informal learning approaches. It means also museums must question their own context by which the narrative line becomes too often one sided and only in favor of official positions. Among these are states claiming a Right to war as the ‘Right to defend itself’ whereby the difference between defense and aggression is blurred in all practical cases. It makes people wonder where states really stand insofar as they are inclined to declare criminal actions in view of war as legitimate forms of combat. It is these justifications along with the allegations of the other side that undermine any public openness and treatment of cultural heritage as common ground for human civilization to develop on.

By defining already what does not belong, what does to a certain collective held together by a definite power system, heritage of the past is not as problematic as the heritage of these times in which such a power system does exist and exert itself by various means to demonstrate but also uphold its dominance. This was the case when Athens was a powerful city state as it is today with the United States being the only superpower to conjure up images of itself in order to bring about acquiescence to its system of power, including the power to destroy where necessary other cultural heritage to fortify its position in the world.

Politics of development and war as extension of politics end up intervening so badly in the lives of people, in particular of children, that experience of cultural heritage is ruled out more and more by a distinct kind of poverty: the poverty of experience. This can be seen on hand of children when growing up in such a world that they loose their childhood before they have connected with the memories of humanity. It cannot be that children inherit only a world ravaged by war and adults resigned to anything but war being always waged as if it has become a permanent institution. Children through schools and museums telling the story of mankind must find another way of narrating experiences so that peace prospects become possible.

Annex 1: Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon




The new armed conflict in the Middle East: In addition to the human tragedy, a cultural disaster


Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon


10 August 2006 - Public opinion worldwide has expressed its consternation at the extent of the human tragedy inflicted on civil populations in the new armed conflict in the Middle East. It is also alarmed by the level of material destruction of the human settlements and infrastructure in the entire area affected by the conflict.


Moreover, we, the signatory organizations of this appeal, whose "raison d'être" is to protect the cultural heritage of mankind, find it of the utmost importance to draw the attention of the public and all political and military bodies concerned, to the scope and gravity of the current danger to the survival of cultural heritage of major significance, recognized for the most part as "World Heritage" by UNESCO. We therefore support earlier statements by the International Committee of the Blue Shield (21 July 2006) and the World Archaeological Congress (31 July 2006) concerning the cultural heritage at risk in the conflict in the Middle East.


In addition to the suffering of the populations and the intensity of material destruction, it is the memory of mankind - through its architectural, archaeological and musicological wealth - which is being irreversibly mutilated. The cultural identities throughout the region are also severely threatened.


We would like to draw particular attention to the fact that numerous World Heritage Sites are situated within the confrontation zone. Amongst those in Lebanon, the site of Byblos, one of the most ancient Phoenician cities, has been affected by an oil slick following the destruction of fuel reservoirs.

However, the sites of Baalbek and Tyre, whose immediate surroundings have been targeted by bombs, are most at risk. In Baalbek, bombs have fallen only 300 meters from the site renowned for its six Roman columns which are the tallest in the world. The city of Tyre, where World Heritage-listed Phoenician and Roman ruins and collections of artifacts are located, has suffered multiple air strikes. Furthermore, the bombs have damaged the natural heritage in the protected Forest of the Cedars in the Al Shouf Biosphere Reserve.


World Heritage Sites in rocket-struck northern Israel are the important archaeological sites of the tells of Megiddo and Hazor, and their museums, and the ancient Phoenician city of Acre, which also preserves important remains from Crusader times beneath the fortified Ottoman town.


In addition to these World Heritage Sites (and the currently proposed World Heritage Sites such as those in Haifa), the area affected by the conflict comprises a number of archaeological sites, monuments and artifacts dating back to the dawn of mankind and retracing the succession of numerous civilizations (Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic,.). Many of these sites have already been inscribed by Israel and Lebanon on their tentative lists in compliance with the World Heritage Convention. Finally, a number of sites bear witness to this region being the cradle of the three great monotheistic religions.


The signatory organizations of this appeal remind the parties at war of the provisions of The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its two Protocols, according to which the contracting parties "undertake to respect cultural property situated within their own territory as well as within the territory of other High Contracting Parties by refraining from any use of the property and its immediate surroundings or of the appliances in use for its protection for purposes which are likely to expose it to destruction or damage in the event of armed conflict; and by refraining from any act of hostility, directed against such property" (art. 4.1).


Moreover, the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention (1972) commit themselves "not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage situated on the territory of other States Parties to this Convention" (art. 6.3).


Whilst recalling that Israel and Lebanon are contracting parties to both Conventions, the signatory organizations of this appeal urge all parties involved in the conflict to respect the spirit and the text of these Conventions, whether or not they are contracting parties to these Conventions. In addition to this, they urgently request all institutions of the international community to work rapidly to ensure that diplomatic negotiations bring the hostilities to an end as soon as possible. They also demand immediate measures of protection and restoration of the concerned monuments, sites, museums (and their collections), by providing, amongst others, national and international experts secure access to the sites.


The signatory organizations:


EUROPA NOSTRA, Pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage

Contact: Mrs Sneska Quaedvlieg Mihailovic, Secretary General, tel. +31 70

302 40 51, imo@europanostra.org, www.europanostra.org


ICA, International Council on Archives

Contact: Mr. David Leitch, Senior Programme Manager tel. +33 1 40 27 61 37, leitch@ica.org, www.ica.org


ICCROM, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

Contact: Office of the Director General, tel. +39 06 58 553 1, iccrom@iccrom.org, www.iccrom.org


ICOM, International Council of Museums

Contact: Mr John Zvereff, Secretary General, tel. +33 1 47 34 91 61, secretariat@icom.museum, www.icom.org


ICOMOS, International Council on Monuments and Sites

Contact: Mrs Gaia Jungeblodt, Director, tel. +33 1 45 67 67 70, secretariat@icomos.org, www.international.icomos.org


OWHC, Organisation of World Heritage Cities

Contact: Mr Denis Ricard, Secretary General, tel. +418 692 0000, secretariat@ovpm.org, www.ovpm.org





H-Net Network for Museums and Museum Studies

E-Mail: h-museum@h-net.msu.edu

WWW: http://www.h-museum.net


From: Carla Bonomi <bonomi@ICOM.MUSEUM>

Subject: Appeal for the protection of cultural property in Israel and Lebanon

Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 12:41:48 -0400

Annex 2: Archaeology for the Public















Welcome to Archaeology for the public...


Do you want to visit an archaeology site? Are you curious about what archaeologists do and why? We have information about all this -- and a lot more.

These web pages are designed for members of the public who want to know more about archaeology, as well as for archaeologists who want to know more about working with the public.

Do you have ideas or useful information to add to this clearinghouse? Comment at any time on any aspect of these web pages via our feedback form.


About these pages...


Educational Resources


Featured link

Using archaeology in K-12 education



Community Archaeology in Houston


Archaeology Month


Fun & Fiction

The theme for Florida Archaeology Month 2006 is The Land Provides. Special programs include tours of archaeological sites; films; book fairs; public and classroom lectures; museum and library exhibits; living history demonstrations; and the distribution of educational materials, posters and bookmarks. Florida Archaeology Month is coordinated by the Florida Anthropological Society and supported by the Division of Historical Resources, the Florida Department of State, the Florida Archaeological Council, Florida State Parks, state and local museums, historical commissions, libraries and public and private school systems.




Thanks to Carol Ellick & the
SRI Foundation


About These Pages

Who?  What?  Where?  Why?

Information flier for Archaeologists (4.83 MB pdf)

SAA News Release



Updated 07/21/06  JR Jeppson All content, text, photography and design © SAA 2005 -2006       Terms and Conditions of UseSee www.saa.org/public/

Annex 3: Grace Boggs about reasons for the loss of childhood


By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, June 13-19, 2004

³Our children¹s minds are being sucked out through their eyeballs.²
---- Ruby Dee

³Where are we? Who are we?  50% dropout rate in schools, 50-70% of
our incarcerated illiterate. We must take back our neighborhoods.²                 
---  Bill Cosby

These pain-filled statements reflect a growing recognition that we need to
think differently about Schooling and how we relate to our children and

In order to address the complex issues involved, we need to go beyond
struggling about who¹s in charge or who¹s to blame and begin thinking about
how our culture is shaped by the means through which we communicate ­  the
Spoken Word,  the Printed  Word, or the images of the electronic media.  No
one understood this better than the late Neil Postman, the New York
University professor who wrote more than a dozen fascinating books on
Education and Communication.

In The Disappearance Of Childhood, first published in 1982, Postman
explained that  Childhood is a cultural artifact that did not exist before
the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century.  In the medieval
world, when people communicated mainly through the spoken word, children
participated in adult activities and became part of the adult world at the
age of seven when they were able to speak.

The printing press ushered in an explosion of books and of individualism
because reading is a private  activity.  Individuals reading the Bible on
their own gave birth to the Protestant Reformation. Widespread reading also
gave birth to the idea of Childhood as a period of preparation for
adulthood, a period during which the child acquires literacy through a
rigorous step by step process, at the same time developing beyond immediate
gratification, towards self-control and in the ability to analyze.

The School emerged as the place within which this civilizing process takes
place  under the tutelage of adults. Thus the concept of Childhood and
Schooling was essentially hierarchical.

Originally schools were mainly for the middle classes.  Poor children and
children of color worked in the fields,  mines and mills and gained access
to public schooling only through heroic  struggles. The hundred years
between 1850 and 1950 were preoccupied with these struggles.

In 1899 this concept of Childhood and Schooling was challenged in two
landmark books:  Freud¹s Civilization and Its Discontents and John Dewey¹s
The School and Society. Freud warned that society cannot afford to ignore
the natural instincts of children. Dewey argued against Schooling only as a
preparation for life in the future. During their school years, he insisted,
children need to be constructive participants in the social life of the

Meanwhile, a new method of  communication, the telegraph, had been
invented.  The telegraph made it possible to send and receive an  unlimited
amount of decontextualized  information from everywhere, 24-7, thus changing
the character of information from the personal and regional to the
impersonal and global. Since then the electronic media  has wrested the
control of information from the home and from the school, reaching its peak
in TV.

TV is a form of communication as different from the Printed Word as the
Printed Word was from the Spoken Word.  Television

·      involves perception, not conception. It. makes no complex demands on
and requires no skills of viewers.
·      is produced for and watched by people of all ages.  By erasing the
distinction between childhood and adulthood, it creates the ³adult-child.²
·      is narrative rather than expository
·      cannot explore a subject in  terms of causes and consequences.
·      calls attention to personalities, not ideas
·      is a present-centered medium, cannot give a sense of past or future.
·      creates an insatiable need for novelty; makes public the most private
·      eliminates exclusivity of knowledge. formerly available only to
·      undermines confidence of children in adults.
·      presents  positive, uplifting information mainly in Commercials.

By the time the average American child goes to school, s/he has watched
thousands of hours of television.  As a result, most children from
non-intellectual homes resist the rigorous, linear, hierarchical kind of
education/schooling that was created during  the centuries when the main
means of communication was the printed word.  As Ruby Dee put it, ³Their
minds have been sucked out through their eyeballs.²

We cannot restore their minds by trying to restore the kinds of Schools that
were an outgrowth of the Print Culture.

At this point, in order to develop the minds of our children, we need to
provide them with opportunities to discover the intrinsic relationship
between effort and results through  constructive participation in the life
of the community along the lines projected by  Dewey.  That is the kind of
education young blacks received through Freedom Schooling during Mississippi
Freedom Summer in 1964.  It is the kind of ³self-transforming and
structure-transforming² direct actions in ³our dying cities² that MLK said
³Negro (sic) youth²  need ³more than middle class values and careers and
wealth.²   It is also the kind of ³put the neighborhood back into the Œhood²
education that  Detroit Summer youth practice as they work with community
people to Rebuild, Redefine and Respirit Detroit from the ground up.

The Freedom Schools of 1964 demonstrated that when Education involves young
people in making community changes that matter to them, when it gives
meaning to their lives in the present instead of only preparing them to make
a living in the future, young people  begin to believe in themselves and to
dream of the future.

As they engage in these meaningful activities, they also begin expressing
themselves in  meaningful language that is appropriate to the activities in
which they are engaged.

Thus the most popular subjects among Mississippi Freedom Schoolers were
foreign languages and poetry and drama.  Thus, also, Detroit Summer has
given birth to some remarkable young poets who have created year-round
Poetry Workshops for Social Change and a Loud and Clear media center, where
young people  are exploring new ways of creating community through new ways
of meaningful communication.

And some of you may be interested in this:


---------- Forwarded Message ----------

Date: 04 August 2006 20:00 +0100

From: Carran Waterfield <carran@TRIANGLETHEATRE.CO.UK>


Subject: (Triangle) Memory, Museums, and the Pollard Trail


***** This email comes from the SCUDD list. Clicking reply will send a message to over 700 recipients. ******


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4 August 2006 (Page 1 of 2)


PRESS: Amanda Kay. mobile 07896 495540; email thepollardtrail@yahoo.co.uk


Memory, museums and the Pollard Trail

The remarkable story of a clown who lost his memory during the Blitz is being told in a unique history trail in Coventry this summer.

It's the story of Irving Pollard - Chico the Clown - who was born into a circus family and who lived in the Hillfields area of the city. Pollard was so traumatized by the Blitz which destroyed his workshop containing his collection of puppets that he faced years of silence without a voice or memory. It was only by carving a new puppet he found that he was finally able to communicate with friends and relatives.

Drawing upon original artefacts, archives and ephemera from the Pollard Collection at The Herbert, Triangle Performance Company has developed a unique approach to presenting Pollard's story, a story that moves outside of the museum and into community locations associated with Irving and his life. Memorabilia from the collection will be displayed at 16 venues in Hillfields, including Pollard’s former 1930s sweetshop, now owned by a Kurdish family. By exposing the museum's collection in such a radical way to a community that is considered by many to be 'difficult', Triangle and The Herbert are fiercely resisting the pressure to conform.

In fact, the Pollard Trail is very relevant to the experience of many living in Hillfields: “The themes of memory, loss and recovery are important to people living in and around this area of Coventry”, says Kurt Zarniko, one of the clown curators, “The area is in a process of huge redevelopment and this trail brings the drama of true historical events together with modern myths about Hillfields. Also, the issue of trauma as a result of war will find resonance in an area which is now home to many who have fled persecution."


Moving museum artefacts into the community isn't the only ground-breaking device employed by Triangle. Using a combination of theatre performance, site-specific activities, oral history and interpretation by quixotic clown curators, Triangle has taken living history a step further. It has succeeded in producing an imaginative means of enabling people to discover the past whilst seeing how the past relates to the present. The outcome is an entertaining and informative story set amidst the unpredictability of everyday life.

Such is the importance of the project it has attracted the attention of Manchester University and is a major case study in the university's Performance, Learning and Heritage research project. It also has the support of Brian Pollard, Irving's only surviving nephew: "I'm delighted my uncle is being remembered in this way. I am proud to be part of this unique portrayal of an extraordinary man."

Participants on the Pollard Trail can dip in and out of the activities. The trail can be joined at any time and lasts from half an hour to all day. A timetable of events will be published daily.



10-20 August 11am-5pm (Sundays 12-4)

Monday 14th Free to Hillfields Residents Tuesday ? Wednesday: ‘Pay what you can’

Thursday ? Sunday: £5, £3 (conc.), £2 (Hillfields residents) Download a map at www.cmpsoc.kk5.org PRESS EVENT: Saturday, 10 August 2006, 3pm at The Swanswell Pub, Cox Street, Hillfields.

For further information and to arrange a photo opportunity, contact Amanda Kay on 07896 495540 or email thepollardtrail@yahoo.co.uk.


Established by performer-writer-director Carran Waterfield in 1988, Triangle has been in residence at The Herbert since November 2000. Under Carran's artistic direction the company has been making cutting-edge performance work and since 1997 Carran Waterfield has been in collaboration with Performance Artist, Richard Talbot. Together they have developed a substantial body of work.

Triangle creates original experimental work which brings museological practices into dialogue with performance and live art. This ranges from experimental methods of harvesting oral histories, work that explores the significance of heritage to young people, to radical responses to historical sites and their contemporary users. Triangle is a winner of the Museums and Heritage Award 2005 and the Roots and Wings Award 2005 as well as the Edinburgh Fringe First Award.

www.triangletheatre.co.uk 024 7678 5170



The Pollard Trail


The amazing recovery of the clown who lost his memory!




10 - 20 August.

Trail opens daily 11am-5pm (Sunday 12am-4pm).


Max charge £5.00

Starts at The Herbert, Jordan Well, Coventry. www.theherbert.org



For sale: Sam Charon, your CMP Soc guide


Buy Sam Now on e-bay!




Presented by The CMP Soc

in association with




Supported by

Arts Council England, Renaissance in the Regions, The Herbert, and in

association with Coventry Transport Museum


Annex 4: Marie Roussou – current research work



home | cv | projects | research | publications | exhibitions | teaching | other

current research activities | | |

current research

My interests combine domains and areas such as educational technology & informal education, interactive learning environments, new media & art, human-computer interaction, cultural technology, and virtual reality. Following a 12-year career of applying principles from the above fields into practice, I decided to finally complete a doctoral degree that ties this experience together. Hence, my current research activity involves work for EU-funded research projects (most notably, the CREATE project, 2002-2005) and research as part of a Computer Science degree at the University College London, under the supervision of Prof. Mel Slater and Dr. Martin Oliver. For past research activity, please visit the projects and publications pages.


TheVirtual Playground is an engaging simulation environment for children between 9 and 12 y. old. In this playground, the child user assumes the role of a designer that must carry out tasks, such as planning the layout of the playground by modifying, resizing and placing its various elements. These tasks require solving mathematical fraction problems. The VP is used for my current research in evaluating interactivity in VEs for learning.





| http://www.makebelieve.gr/mr/












1 On Friday, November 2, 2001, there appeared an article in the Herald Tribune under the rubric Editorials / Opinion with the title “Start Preparing Now for Nasty Surprises Ahead”. Written by Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. secretary of defense in the President Bush junior administration, it explains why after 11th of September a new military planning is needed. Rumsfeld concludes the article, that “yes, we must win the war on terrorism, but as we do so, we must also prepare for the next war.”


2 Lewis Mumford, The City in History (1991) London: Penguin, p. 638 - 646

3 Louis Baeck, (2002) The Saga of Development and Globalisation, Storia del Pensiero Economica, 43 – 44

4 Op. cit., Louis Baeck, p. 2

5 See Annex I: Appeal to protect the cultural heritage sites in Lebanon and Israel

6 Peter J. Howard, Turin, 4 – 5.2.05

7 See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janusz_Korczak

8 Jean Piaget has made a study about such reactions when comparing Swiss with German children and the latter more inclined to deny their parents than to uphold the moral law as something higher while seeing their parents in a more realistic way. Responses of disappointment once found out that the world is not perfect can be modified by cultural heritage showing a world which was never perfect but man made and therefore to be judged accordingly.

9 This was a main theme in Robert Musil’s novel “The Man without Attributes” especially when the main character of the novel speaks with the youth sitting on staircases and showing these strains of Nihilism in their thoughts about the world they were facing. Crucial is that many youths have doubts in their ideas if they do not have anyone respond to them. It is worse, says Robert Musil, than any criticism if they get no response. That means in terms of public space and debate what thoughts are shown is vital to give reason to such doubts can be worked on rather than go against the child or youth.

10 Stories can also be told through paintings. Duerer would portray war as the ‘apocalyptical rider’ who like death travels from village to village in the Middle Ages and strike down with his sickle everything that stood in his way.

11 When working as advisor for the Greens to the Committee on Culture of the European Parliament in 1999 – 2000, there was such a discussion when politicians were reviewing a report on ‘Child Sex Tourism’.

12 Thomas Bernhard, the Austrian writer recalls that only thanks to his grandfather did he learn something about National Socialism and Fascism, resistance and silence in Austria since no one else of the Salzburg society would talk about that openly with him when still a child.


13 SOSAD (Save Our Sons and Daughters) Huntington Woods Peace, Citizenship & Education Project James & Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership: www.boggscenter.org

14 Entry into the diary of one of the Columbine High School suicide killers: “It is cool to hate. I have the goal to destroy as much as possible, and I must not be side tracked by my feelings of sympathy, mercy or any of that.” Cited by H.D.S. Greenway, “Once again, Britain looks at reasons why”, International Herald Tribune, August 12 – 13, 2006, p. 7

15 As indication how vital is the role of museums in addressing such an issue can be taken a call for papers by the Journal on ‘Museums & Social Issues’ to following topic for Vol. 2 (1) 2006: “What Is Race?” The intention is to assist museums in considering enduring concerns, thoughtful perspectives or creative initiatives by publishing articles dealing with topics like:


- What constitutes race? If the concept of race is a social construction, how should museums portray it?

- What role have or should museums play in a national dialogue about race?

- How can or how do museums engage diverse communities around controversial issues such as racial violence, racial inferiority, white supremacy, etc.

- What is the role of race in collecting? How do museums whose collections focus around a historic community make their collections relevant to a changing community?

- Do particular museums primarily attract particular races in their audiences and staff?

- Articles about case studies will be considered, but priority given to ones that broadly discuss, synthesize, challenge and analyze the subject and provide conceptual and practical ideas.


Prospective authors should contact co-editors Kris Morrissey

(morriss8@msu.edu) or Gretchen Sullivan Sorin (Sorins@oneonta.edu) prior to August 30, 2006.



16 See Ernst Bloch, Heritage of Our Times (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990).

17 The City of Volos is here a good example by exemplifying in Greece not only testimonies of the Ancient Past, but by bringing out the industrial heritage through the creation of a specific museum dedicated to that time period focuses on a recent past usually not associated by tourists when they come to visit Greece. For further information about the museum of industrial heritage at Tsalapatas, the former brick factory, see www.i-politismos.gr

18 Especially the rise of Hitler and National Socialism in Germany shows to what extent loss of cultural heritage can lead to.

19 T. W. Adorno, et al., The Authoritarian Personality, (1950) New York: Harper & Brothers.

20 See David Mantell, Family and Aggression (1972) F.a.M., Fischer Publishing House.

21 Juergen Habermas. ( 2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August  14, 2006, from Britannica Concise Encyclopedia: http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9366386/J%C3%BCrgen-Habermas

22 David Cloud, “Israel asks US for more cluster bombs” in Sydney Morning Herald, August 12, 2006 http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/israel-asks-us-for-more-cluster-weapons/2006/08/11/1154803102480.html


23 Warren Hoge, US Shift kicked off Frantic Diplomacy at U.N., New York Times, August 14, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/14/world/middleeast/14reconstruct.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=washington


24 Jean Baudrillard (2002a), The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers. London: Verso.

25 Within Heritage Radio Network such issues as ‘the universal lie of the media’ have been touched upon. See Hatto Fischer, (2005) International Perspectives of the Internet Radio in Europe, in archives of the HERMES project http://www.swkk.de/hermes/archives/International_Perspectives.doc

26 Urban Screens http://www.interactionfield.de


27 For instance 3/1/05NYT editorial says U.S. schools were never designed to provide high quality education; mainly  to send an elite to college and keep others off the streets until they were ready for unskilled and factory jobs, which have largely disappeared.

Michigan Citizen / Boggs Centre, Detroit, June 13-19, 2004

29 See Annex 3: Grace Boggs about reasons for the loss of childhood

30 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Loach

31 The psychologist Jean Piaget examined children when playing marbles how they would then develop moral concepts as evident in the rules they design: one wrong way of throwing the marble would mean loosing a turn or the marble or even worse being thrown out completely from the game. Morality has, therefore, very much to do with different kinds of punishment. Neils Summerhill made the observation that the older the children get the less a tendency towards extreme forms of punishment.

32 Peter J. Howard, Turin, 4 – 5.2.05

33 Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea – Why the Greeks matter, (2003), London: Random House, p. 7 - 8

34 www.kids-guernica.org

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