Uses of the Past (2016-2019)


In 2016, the HERA network, along with the European Commission, invested €21 million in 18 European research teams as part of its third joint research programme ‘Uses of the Past’.


The following countries have committed to this programme:

AustriaBelgiumCzech Republic
LithuaniaLuxembourgThe Netherlands
SwitzerlandUnited Kingdom

About the theme

The theme ‘Uses of the Past’ recognises that to understand many of today’s pressing societal questions of identity, integration, political legitimacy, creativity and cultural dynamics across Europe we need new, more complex understandings of how individuals and societies use and reflect upon the past. These understandings must take account of how cultural ideas, traditions and practices are constructed, transferred and spread among different agents and regions.

Our aim

This joint research programme will shed a new light on how European, non-European or global pasts are actively and instrumentally used, and to what ends. It will examine which:

  • historically informed orientations and actions in society are promoted, mobilised and legitimised
  • mechanisms and motives lie behind the work of historical understanding in:

The knowledge produced will enable us to see more clearly the complex ways in which our cultural diversity has been formed, and the dynamics by which it may be shaped and directed in the future.

The projects

The 18 funded projects deal with a variety of subjects ranging from the Carolingian world, identity and citizenship, HIV/AIDS, to economics, arts, religion and languages.