COURAGE: Cultural Opposition - Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries

On 1 February 2016, the consortium of twelve European academic institutions has launched COURAGE, the three-year international research project financed by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. 

The project proposes both to create an electronic registry of representative online and offline, private and public collections of cultural opposition in all former socialist countries in Europe and to study the origins, uses and changing roles of these collections in their social, political and cultural contexts. We seek to further an understanding of how these (private and public, alternative and mainstream) collections work, what functions they serve in their respective societies, and how they represent their holdings to the public. The project will examine the legal and political circumstances that determined the collections before 1989 and the conditions that shape them in the post-socialist period. The analyses of the collections will identify various types of cultural opposition to Communist authoritarianism and the party state.

COURAGE: Connecting Collections Logo
Research Aims

Objectives include:

  1. An online registry and a transnational database of collections in the original languages and English that will be accessible to European archival platforms and networks;
  2. Descriptions of and guides to the collections to enhance the quality of research and provide guidance on the role of the EU in this respect;
  3. Country reports on the collections and proposals concerning methods of preserving cultural heritage, and a handbook on various types of cultural opposition represented by the collections;
  4. Online curriculum development and digital content for educational purposes;
  5. A documentary film festival, traveling and online exhibitions and local media events based on selected collections;
  6. A set of recommendations concerning how to exhibit the cultural opposition movements of former socialist countries for the House of European History.  

This project will highlight the positive aspects of the former cultural opposition movements, such as democratic participation, autonomy and cultural plurality, and will remind us of an important pan-European truth: that civic courage can produce genuine cultural values even under authoritarian rule.

Participating institutions
  • Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences; 
  • Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences; 
  • Trinity College Dublin, Ireland;
  • The Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, Germany;
  • Institute of Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences;
  • Lithuanian Institute of History, Vilnius;
  • Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic;
  • University of Bucharest, Romania;
  • Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb;
  • Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia;
  • The University of Oxford, UK;
  • Institute for Computer Science and Control, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.