CULTURALBASE: Social Platform on Cultural Heritage and European Identities

May, 2015 to April, 2017
EU Horizon 2020

The general assumption on which our proposal is based is that, since the second half of the last century, culture has experienced a profound mutation through which both its position and role in social dynamics have been transformed. Whereas it was previously confined to a purely superstructural position, it now constitutes an essential basis of today’s society. Most of the current pressing social issues, such as racism or interethnic conflict, are indeed cultural in character just as most of the keys to progress are cultural as well. Sustainable development and a future of smart and creative societies can only be conceived on the basis of deep cultural dynamization. In the context of cultural digitization and globalization, on the other hand, the entire cultural ecosystem has changed, which has radically altered - and at the same time, intensified - the relationship between cultural identity, cultural heritage and cultural expression. This transformation has occurred both at the level of the professional cultural sector as well as in society as a whole. Therefore, we can say that culture has come to play a much more complex, and at the same time much more important, role than in had in previous times. Now it has acquired a central strategic value in contemporary society, especially in mature societies as it is the case of Europe that has the richest heritage and the largest potential in terms of cultural expression. This raises at present a major challenge, of knowledge and governance.

The situation is paradoxical because while the social importance of culture is enhanced and the challenge of its management becomes more difficult, the ability of knowledge and action remains very weak. Cultural scholars often work unconnectedly, barricaded in their different disciplinary fields and national traditions. As for the cultural practitioners, fragmentation is even more pronounced, particularly between the various subsectors. Morevore, the connection between scholars and practioners is lacking in extreme. And finally, completing this scenario, the field of cultural policy appears as endemically fragile in most of Europe and, in any case, always appears as relatively marginal respect to other fields of public action. Indeed, in general terms, the capacity of reflection and intervention in this field happens to be particularly ill-adjusted in relation to the current needs.

Against this background it is necessary to promote collective reflection within the cultural sector in Europe in order to enhance the capacity for cultural governance. CulturalBase intends to make a decisive contribution to this endeavour, laying the basis for an articulated vision shared by all the stakeholders in the sector and to help define the most important challenges and opportunities in this field. We intend to create centrality for "the cultural issue" in the same way in which "the social issue" had historically acquired significance in Europe. This will be our utmost and most ambitious objective.

The process through which we will try to achieve the above objective is a process of inquiry promoted by the consortium partners of this project and of dialogue and debate with all the stakeholders of the platform. This process will be articulated through a series of steps and tasks that mark in turn a number of more specific and substantive objectives. They are:

  • To make an extensive state-of-the-art review of the research literatures and policy programmes in the general field of cultural heritage and European identities.
  • To identify main research issues and policy programmes in this field and to contrast between the kind of research done and the policies developed.
  • To produce general overviews on the research priorities and opportunities in relation with cultural heritage and European identities from three basic analytic perspectives: cultural memory, cultural inclusion and cultural creativity.
  • To develop a shared view within the social platform on the more important and policy relevant research issues in this field for Europe in the coming years and the best way to address them.
  • To produce strategic research agendas on cultural heritage and European identities from the three aforementioned analytic perspectives stemming from the shared views.
  • To produce general policy guidelines in this domain from these same perspectives, especially in relation with information systems and research policy.