History Teaching

"Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century" – project results

The misuse of history

The misuse of history is based on the symposium “Facing misuses of history”, organised jointly by the Council of Europe’s Council for Cultural Co-operation (CDCC) and the Norwegian Ministry of Education, Research and Church Affairs, as part of the project.

Besides the keynote speech and the general report, this book contains the speeches and papers presented at the symposium.

After discussing what makes history, by its very nature, vulnerable to distortion, the participants attempted to clarify why and by whom history could be abused, looking at a wide variety of misuses of history (abuse by denial of historical facts, by falsification, by fixation on a particular event, by omission, out of laziness or ignorance, by exploitation for extraneous purposes, to name but a few).

They concluded that while contemporary history is the most susceptible, all historical periods can be open to distortion. Thus the importance of examining the misuse of history in both the distant and recent past, and ways of combating it. Rather than posit history with any sort of investigation is an ongoing process, continually correcting its errors. Similarly, all fields of history – not only political but also economic, social and cultural history – run the risk of abuse.

Finally, the participants identified a number of approaches to face and counter misuses of history.

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Link to ISBN publication
available in English and in French