Historical Memory and Economy

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wishing that 2009 be a creative year for everyone, the President of the Maniatakeion Foundation Dimitris Maniatakis cut the traditional New Year’s pie of the Foundation, in an event held Saturday February 7 at the Athenian Club.

The speakers for the evening included Notis Mitarakis, former President of the Greeks Bankers Union of Great Britain on the “ Impact and opportunities for the Greek economy” and Andrea Nanetti, Professor at the University of Bologna & Advisor to the Italian Ministry of Culture, on “ Historical memory as global responsibility”.

Among else, Mr. Mitarakis stressed: “Undoubtedly we now face a ‘new economic reality’, which was shaped - or rather reflected - by the recent adverse financial developments. These events demonstrated to all the interdependence of national economies, which is a challenging field both for national governments and the global financial network. Looking at the future of the Greek market, the determinants for growth in recent years have largely been reversed. The main question is what Greece has to shown today as an investment destination.

The main challenge for Greece is development, which will help reduce unemployment and deficit. Greece can achieve the goal of development:

First, by supporting robust private initiatives. Greece should support investment, reducing obstacles to business, not only with grants and aid. The challenge is to improve productivity and competitiveness.


Secondly, by making better use of the state’s resources. We should consider the creation of a Sovereign Wealth Fund, with two objectives: to improve performance and the strategic development of the economy. It is important to seize the wealth created equally to reduce the deficit, which is a major obstacle for the development of sustainable systems of social benefits.”

Professor Andrea Nanetti focused on the interaction of historical memory with history. He stressed that, over several decades, the relationship between these concepts has led to the development of a very interesting epistemological and politically charged public debate.

He continues by said that historians and those involved in the design and operation of museums have a sacred obligation to shed light on the past and create an objective picture thereof. Unfortunately, we all know that history is easily distorted, which makes it valuable to those who have an interest to do so.

Prof. Nanetti believes that the better understanding of the events and dynamics of social memory requires an in-depth analysis of the supporting infrastructure (archives, museums, libraries, monuments, etc.). He thus considered the divergences which exist in even simple matters of setting up this infrastructure, i.e. their collection, preservation, restoration, and accessibility. He also examined theoretical questions related to sources of historical knowledge and experience (epistemological, ontologies, etc.).

He also analyzed the influence of different types of historical research in the theory and practice of social memory and its limits (is there such thing as “truth”, can a ”trauma” and other extreme historical events be understood sufficiently?) Prof. Nanetti also raised significant questions such as: is responsibility transferred from the level of the state to that of social groups and ultimately to individuals and from one generation to another and vice versa?

In conclusion, he stated that the promotion and overall enhancement of cultural heritage contributes on numerous levels to the economic development of countries and regions. One such case is that of Messinia and he hopes that the Maniatakeion Foundation shall contribute to this end.