Traces of the past, such as artefacts, monuments and oral traditions, are increasingly used in educational activities, often designated by the term 'heritage education'. Policy makers and education officers have argued that cultural heritage could render the past more tangible, motivating pupils and stimulating their historical consciousness, and contribute to identity development amongst youngsters. The past can, however, also be brought too close in a way that it obstructs actual reflection on history and that it excludes particular perspectives. This study examines what strategies are used by museums, archives and memorial centres to bring the past closer and stimulate various forms of engagement. Furthermore, it studies how these techniques relate to the inclusion and exclusion of multiple points of view. This research encompasses an analysis of the educational materials, activities and museum presentations of fifteen heritage institutes in England and the Netherlands that deal with the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, the Second World and the Holocaust. An important outcome of this research is an analytical framework that provides insight into the effect of different narrative structures on the experience of the nearness or distance of the past and the various ways in which the past can be connected to the present. This study argues that elements of temporal proximity and engagement should be combined with detached reflection in order for heritage education to offer more than a coloured experience of the past and actually enrich history learning.

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M.C.R. Grever (Maria) , C.A.M. van Boxtel (Carla)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
This research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

de Bruijn, P. (2014, October 16). Bridges to the Past. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/77834