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Eight months have passed...

June 1st, 2023

After eight months of activity, the geneveMonde.ch editorial team is continuing its work to enhance the value of audiovisual archives, while reflecting on the challenges posed by a public history project on the history of international Geneva.

Inspired by the experience of notreHistoire.ch, geneveMonde.ch defends an original public history project, in which all publics can participate in the enhancement of the Swiss audiovisual heritage on the history of international relations, and in the construction of collective memories. The notion of "shared" history, which also applies to other projects abroad (historypin, Fortepan.us), sums up this ambition for a history written by and for the public.

Eight months have passed since the launch of the platform in October 2022, and geneveMonde.ch has delivered on its commitments, thanks to the support of its editorial partners and a dynamic editorial team. Our publications cover various aspects of the history of international relations, with a particular focus on the history of Geneva. In addition to our thematic dossiers, we have launched our Sounds of History podcast series, in French version and English version. A series of subjects were written by the team of freelancers we have assembled. Finally, this year we realised mediation projects for the Histoire et Cité festival organised by the University of Geneva.

Public participation was at the heart of the geneveMonde.ch project. University of Geneva students, journalists, archivists, former international civil servants and history fans contribute directly, through their archives, personal accounts and publications, to the construction of a shared history of international Geneva.

Participation beyond the platform

Our collaboration with the archives of international organisations and public institutions is not limited to highlighting their memory. Most international organisations possess sound archives, unknown to the public, which are unfortunately sometimes in a critical state of preservation, a concern which has led us to initiate projects to restore the sound archives of international organisations.

Public history isn't just about making history accessible to the public. It also means developing partnerships with institutions that hold archives, proposing editorial projects that mobilise various tools and modes of writing public history, and taking a critical look at the way in which collective and heritage memories are constructed, notably by giving legitimacy to private archives and oral history.

Building a shared history

Nevertheless, mobilising the public remains a challenge. Since the League of Nations established in Geneva in 1920, many international civil servants and delegates have made the city their home. Their view of international Geneva and their personal experience of international cooperation should enrich our understanding of the history of international cooperation, but their presence on the geneveMonde.ch platform remains marginal. This is partly due to their status as international civil servants, which limits the scope for free speech, unhindered by institutional constraints. Without the testimony of these men and women, the history of international organisations can only remain on the surface. We therefore need their memory.

Finally, we cannot ignore the distance that separates Genevans from International Geneva. If Robert de Traz could declare in the 1920s that there was a unique spirit in Geneva that allowed internationalism to flourish on the shores of Lake Geneva, today we wonder what remains of this golden age. While international organisations have had an obvious impact on Geneva, its politics and economy, their influence on the daily lives of Genevans is no less important. But beyond the obvious, geneveMonde.ch still needs to find ways of reaching out to its citizens.

Véronique Stenger

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