Current living place:
Thessaloniki, Greece

Corinna Noack-Aetopulos

Director of programmes Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE)

  • My organization:
    The aims of the CDRSEE, founded in 1998, are to foster within Southeast Europe: democratic and pluralist societies; European values and citizenship; market economies that operate within the framework of the rule of law and principles of social responsibility; social inclusion of disadvantaged groups; and reconciliation among the people of the region.

  • Examples of concrete activities I have organized/am organizing in the field of “dealing with the past”:

    The Center’s most prominent project is “The Joint History Project (JHP)”, an ongoing, social, political and educational initiative that begun under the auspices of the CDRSEE in 1999, aiming at an informed, significant and realistic change in historical research and education in all countries of Southeast Europe.
    The objectives of the project are achieved through the production of a set of alternative history-teaching education materials currently available in eight languages– designed and written by prominent experts from all over the region – along with continuous teacher training, outreach and media work.

  • Concrete challenges I am facing in my “dealing with the past”-related work:

    Ethnocentric teaching is still prevailing in the region and old grievances are far from overcome. Very often our books are perceived as a threat that deconstructs the national story line and thus undermines the national identity. Education communicates the goals of a society and has always been politically laden. The sensitive historical past of Southeast Europe with its complex national identity issues has triggered SEE societies to become anxious about whether societal goals and national priorities are well reflected in their education policies. These national driven education policies are in conflict with educational reform needs and counter the goal of European integration or regional integration.

  • My personal link to/interest for the topic of “dealing with difficult pasts”:
    As a German citizen “dealing with difficult pasts” was central but not limited to our history classes. The German past is, I guess, the most difficult and unprecedented in Europe, and also is becoming very relevant with the financial crisis, new nationalism and populism. This is the case especially, in Southeast Europe, where the German past has created a vast amount of hostility and animosity. For almost 10 years now, I have been living in Southeast Europe and I have been active in developing programmes for dealing with the past of the region from various angles. I am especially interested in the question of conflicting national identities and in how education can contribute to societies that are more capable of evaluating information and less predisposed to indoctrination.