Activity 1 : Teaching through academic seminars

Year 1: Sense of belonging to a common cultural space

Intervener Title of the intervention Location Date
Gaelle Crenn (Université de Lorraine) Identity and sense of belonging in border areas: the case of Luxembourg and the Greater Region 2007 UCL, Mons 19/02/2019

Within the framework of MSH Lorraine, a multidisciplinary project (2007–2010) sought to find out to what extent the designation of ‘Luxembourg and the Greater Region’ as European Capital of Culture in 2007 constituted an opportunity to develop a cross-border cultural space through the deployment of large-scale cultural programming. In particular, how could major events (celebrations, the closing ceremony, etc.) and exhibitions (municipalities, travelling, etc.) create cross-border synergies and an awareness of a transregional cultural identity? Reception studies have revealed that in exhibitions, cultural heritage is a catalyst for an identity that remains mainly confined to the regional territory. Similarly, cultural events contribute to the invention of a common memory territory, but mainly at the regional level, rarely achieving integration on a larger scale. To strengthen the perception of the Greater Region as a common territory of belonging, it remains essential to take into account the cultural and linguistic determinations that structure communities in the Greater Region, as well as the cultural practices, mobility and expectations of the audiences concerned.

Nicolae Popa (Université de l’Ouest de Timisoara) Places of memory and tourism: Timisoara, EC0C 2021, and its region UCL, Mons 06/03/2019

Resulting from personal research carried out at the Centre for Regional Development and Cross-Border Studies of the University of West Timisoara, the essay has the following objectives: 1) To illustrate the idea that there is a reciprocal link between memory of places, heritage and the affirmation of tourism; 2) to clarify how the memory of facts permeates places and transforms certain spaces into places of memory; and 3) to verify the hypotheses behind these objectives, through a case study on Timisoara and its region. This study focuses on the places of memory of the Anti-Communist Revolution in Timisoara (lived and perceived spaces), as well as other places of potential interest for ECOC 2021 in Timisoara and its region. The speech highlighted the results of the research undertaken on this theme in the city of Timisoara, according to the following hypotheses: 1) In an integrated Europe, territorial identities tend to strengthen (as a reaction to globalization); 2) local authorities seek to make their identity landmarks part of their heritage in order to become known and to attract resources in an increasingly competitive market; 3) the successes of development projects are seen as combining heritage enhancement and the introduction of the new in a creative way; and 4) Timisoara, a formerly multicultural and intercultural city, has a set of objects, facts and places of memory that form a rich heritage, the notoriety of which is evolving. After analysing the European and regional context, the short presentation of the events of the Anti-Communist Revolution in Timisoara allowed us to clarify the circumstances of the production of the places of memory dedicated to them. The contradictory stakes of the memory of the events and their staging were discussed, followed by details of the realization and instrumentalization of places, objects and symbols intended to highlight and perpetuate the revolutionary heritage of the city (portrayal in monuments, urban modelling, museumization, persuasion and bringing to the public attention, etc.). The conclusion was that there is a real polyphony of contradictory voices. This is perhaps why the involvement of the authorities is becoming more and more formal, while the new generations are relatively indifferent to the revolutionary heritage. This observation can be read at several levels, either by the young people questioned, the managers and tourist guides interviewed, or by the analysis of the city's application file for the title of European Capital of Culture 2021. The cultural projects and activities proposed in this guide build on the legacy of the anti-communist revolution in Timisoara in only a marginal way.

Thomas Perrin (Université de Lille) Culture, identity and territory. Outlooks on cross-border contexts LISER, Esch/Alzette 08/03/2019

This seminar dealt with the interactions between identity, culture and territory. It reflected on how cultural policy can contribute to promoting and building an identity in relation to a particular society and corresponding territory. At the same time, such a ‘culture-identity’ building process reinforces the institutional identity of the authority that presides over the relevant territory and conducts the related cultural policy. The cultural policies of nation states particularly illustrate such dynamics, but they are also present at other territorial scales. The reflection drew on examples from European states and sub-state authorities, and addressed the case of the Euroregions that emerge at a renewed, cross-border territorial scale. Moreover, the analysis suggests that the cultural-territorial identity can have different dimensions, which respond to an evolution of the socioeconomic referencing of cultural and creative activities.

Alexander Tölle (Université Adam Mickiewicz de Poznań) Transnational urban strategies in the European Capital of Culture concepts of Polish cities LISER, Esch/Alzette 08/03/2019

A look at the Polish ECOCs and ECOC candidate cities offers an interesting insight into the process of change in post-socialist East Central European cities. Cracow 2000 serves as a demonstration of the most important cultural hub of Poland, in the understanding of representing its nation as being genuinely European in a sense of overcoming the legacy of a divided continent. Wrocław 2016, however, was an event resulting from a competition between self-governing city municipalities (also including Gdansk, Warsaw, Lublin and Katowice) on how to boost urban transnational strategies: be it at the level of creating tolerant urban societies, or innovative regions, metropolitan areas or cross-border regions. An analysis shows existing deficits in the latter aspects, while the lack of transnational urban societies–interpreted as a disadvantage in the quest of building attractive and creative cities–could be compensated for by the rediscovery of a multi-ethnic past. In turn, Zgorzelec, as part of the so-called European City of Görlitz and Zgorzelec (and runner-up in the nomination process for the German ECOC in 2010) came close to using the event to create the image of a tolerant and integrated European city, being located in the territory of two countries.

Christian Lamour (LISER) Investigating the European identity across state borders: Background and categories of the multi-faceted designation UOT, Timisoara 15/05/2019

The communication was organized around three points. First, the objective was to define cultural identities by highlighting the interactive processes they involve, the spatial scales on which they are organized and lastly, the plural dimension they imply. In a second step, the focus was on the European identity. The discourses produced on this identity by Europe’s institutional actors, and also the way in which Europeans define their identities and the emergence of a populist discourse on a European identity were detailed. Lastly, there was a focus on the discourses produced on identity building and the sense of belonging in the cross-border regions of the European Union. The Greater Region centred on Luxembourg was used as a case study.

Emilia Palonen (Université d’Helsinki) European Capitals of Culture. An awkward European cultural policy UOT, Timisoara 15/05/2019

The talk discussed the European Capitals of Culture programme as a challenging cultural and European policy. It investigated what ‘Europe’ means in the ECOC policy. This should highlight what is aimed at with the policy, and how the values of the EU–particularly at that given period–are also reflected in it. Instead of a cultural Europe, the policy has shifted its focus to an economic Europe. The awkwardness of the ECOC policy is related to the way in which funding is not really sourced from the European union, which leaves the local events vulnerable to local challenges and transformations, as well as to the changing enthusiasm about the European project. Lastly, the presentation pondered on the unevenness of how the ECOC event is presented in the event cities.

Elzbieta Opilowska (Université de Wroclaw) Creating local identity through cultural projects - Wroclaw as European Capital of Culture 2016 UL, Lille 22-26/05/2019
Urban reality is created through the content and the way its authorities and residents talk about a city. The city is created and lived precisely in the narratives (meanings are given to what happens in the city, and how it transforms and generates urban space). Imaginaries that can be conceptualized as coherent sets of ideas, images, symbols, emotions, beliefs and convictions are often used to legitimize political projects, and everyday projects pursued by individual agents (Bürkner 2017). Wroclaw has been building its new identity since 1945. In the post-war years, it was the capital of the so called ‘recovered territories’ according to the officially circulated ‘Piast legend’. After the fall of communism, the rich, multinational history was included again in the city’s narrative, which is reflected in the new city brand: ‘Wroclaw. The Meeting Place’. The project of a European City of Culture (later, the European Capitals of Culture initiative) was established in 1985 in order to bring people closer together and to generate support for the European integration project. However, it evolved from ‘a cultural event to an urban regeneration engine, and then to a policy tool for urban-regional development by culture’ (Tölle 2014). Based on an analysis of the evaluation reports on Wroclaw as ECOC 2016, the lecture discussed the impact of the project on the creating of local identity. Here, the local identity is understood as both the officially produced narrative and the identification of the residents with the city and their participation in cultural events.
Fabienne Leloup (Université catholique de Louvain) Border, culture and European citizenship: a case study of the French-Belgian border UOT, Timisoara 19/06/2019

Is the border a resource or an incentive for building a European citizenship? This research question assumes that the label of European Capital of Culture could be a tool for shifting the border from a limit into such an incentive. Three concepts are used: culture, (European) citizenship and border. The citizenship is normally defined at a national level, could the ECOC help to develop a transborder and then a European citizenship? The lecture is based on the case of Mons2015, a Belgian city closed to the French border, labelled as ECOC in 2015.

Activity 2 : Products for the attention of cities supporting a cross-border cultural project

A website dedicated to the project (

Activity 3 : Research on the role of the European Union's internal and external borders

Lamour C. and Schulz N. (2021) How cultural third places affect urban development in the European Capital of Culture region of Esch2022. In Lonergan P. and Morris C. (Eds.) European Capitals of Culture: The art of reimagining. A special issue for the University Network of European Capitals of Culture. Galway: NUI Galway
Turșie C. and Perrin T. (2020) Assessing the social and cultural impacts of the European Capital of Culture programme in cross-border areas. A research agenda, Eastern Journal of European Studies, 11 (Special Issue) pp. 77-98.
Lamour C. (2020) Living together at the cross-border regional scale in Europe: Supra-national and trans-national identity models in the Greater Region, Regional Science Policy and Practice, 12 (5), 749-760
Lamour C. and Durand F. (2019) European Capitals of Culture across state borders. In Schneider W. and Jacobsen K. (Eds.) Transforming Cities Paradigms and Potentials of Urban Development Within the “European Capital of Culture” (pp. 41-51). New York: Georg Olms Verlag.
Turșie C. and Popa N. (2019) Cross-border Issues for future European Capitals of Culture. In Schneider W. and Jacobsen K. (Eds.) Transforming Cities Paradigms and Potentials of Urban Development Within the “European Capital of Culture” (pp. 121-132). New York: Georg Olms Verlag.
Bosredon P. and Perrin T. (2019) Lille 2004: Effects and legacy. In Schneider W. and Jacobsen K. (Eds.) Transforming Cities Paradigms and Potentials of Urban Development Within the “European Capital of Culture” (pp. 165-176). New York: Georg Olms Verlag.
Leloup F. and Panait O. M. (2019) Regional development, culture and border. In Schneider W. and Jacobsen K. (Eds.) Transforming Cities Paradigms and Potentials of Urban Development Within the “European Capital of Culture” (pp. 233-240). New York: Georg Olms Verlag.
Lamour C. and Lorentz N. (2019) ‘If I were to do it all over again, should I begin with culture?’ The European integration from a cultural perspective in a multi-national Grand Duchy, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 27 (3), pp. 357-374.
Lamour C. and Lorentz N. (2019) The economics of free newspapers: The business value of banal cosmopolitanism in the city of flows, Journal of Media Business Studies, 16 (2), pp. 110-125.
Cahier de la recherche étudiante n°1 : sentiment d’appartenance transfrontalier et identité européenne.
Blanchemanche P. (2019) Festival du Film Italien de Villerupt et identité transfrontalière. Cas d’étude : Esch 2022.

Activity 4 : Five events for researchers, public actors in charge of cultural policies and representatives of civil society related to culture

Type Location Date
Esch/Alzette 07/03/2019
Timisoara 16/05/2019