“Practices of Appropriating the Past" - behind this unwieldy formulation lies a well thought out concept. The concept of appropriation can be applied particularly well in relation to dealing with the past, says Dr habil. Barbara Christophe from the Leibniz Institute for Educational Media. "It implies an encounter between the own and the foreign. You take something initially foreign and adapt it to the reality of your own life. In this way, you not only change the foreign, but of course also yourself.”
This is exactly what happens when you refer to the past. Similar to a journey to a foreign country, the person dealing with the past has to understand the respective value horizons of the people - here: in the past. However, the view of the past is always directed from a concrete standpoint in the present. A specific focus emerges.
“That is why the term 'appropriation' is so exciting," says Barbara Christophe. "You can ask: what aspects of the past does someone appropriate and why? What is the emphasis placed on when dealing with the past?”
Christophe investigated these questions in a field study in the history classes of various Berlin school classes and was able to observe that the different points of view from which the students look at the Cold War, for example, are not always considered by the teachers. "What is self-evident for a history teacher is not necessarily self-evident for a fifteen-year-old student."
"The past is in fashion and we regularly observe how people refer to it," says Dr Hans-Ulrich Wagner. As an example, he cites the social media treatment of "Jana from Kassel", a young woman who compared herself to the resistance fighter Sophie Scholl at a protest against Corona measures. This historical comparison was playfully taken up on the internet. Within a very short time, a multitude of memes circulated that ironically countered "Jana from Kassel" and her idiosyncratic reference to a historical person.
Hans-Ulrich Wagner sees a special form of "appropriation" in the much-discussed, public Instagram project "I am Sophie Scholl". "Here we see the element of immersion". The historical person Sophie Scholl is equipped with modern technology and, similar to today's influencers, accompanies her everyday life during the Nazi era.
Blog Series on the Instagram Project "Ich bin Sophie Scholl" [I am Sophie Scholl]
Open Access Book von Barbara Christophe, Peter Gautschi and Robert Thorp on the Cold War in School
Blog on Jana from Kassel
Dr. habil. Barbara Christophe
Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner
Leibniz Institute for Educational Media | Georg Eckert Institute (GEI)