AVIA portrays women* and their stories, in connection with the European continent. Their unique life journeys illustrate the changes in our way of life, our interpersonal relationships and the struggles we have fought and still have to fight.
AVIA are conversations between grandmothers and granddaughters where they tell (each other) their reality as young women. This provides an overview of almost 70 years and gives us the opportunity to imagine the direction our future should take, with all the challenges it will bring.
On the one hand, the women interviewed belong to the silent generation, born between 1929 and 1950, at the beginning of the birth boom. On the other hand, 50 to 70 years later, the granddaughters belong to the Millennials and Gen Z. The grandmothers directly experienced the first developments of the EU's predecessors. They became adult women under the Soviet regime, the Spanish dictatorship or even in Greece. They are women who fled their countries to escape the conflicts and wars in which European countries have been embroiled for so many years.
AVIA invites dialogue between generations and bridges the gap between these seemingly so different generations. With the talks, I would like to pause for a moment. The aim is to bring women who have worked in secret for decades, who have shaped the social environment and taken care of many, into dialogue with young women who today take on a lot of responsibility to move society forward.
Resilience through exchange
Everyone can associate something with the word grandmother. Whether you know your grandmother or not, get on well with her or not. The story of one's grandparents, and especially of one's grandmother, is also a part of one's own thought patterns. In Europe, but also in the rest of the world, we are facing great challenges. Challenges that we have never perceived in such a formative way, such as the climate crisis. However, there are also challenges that we are already familiar with on the European continent: growing nationalism, populism and, above all, the fear of "the other".
Don't we hear enough stories from women today? Do we actually still need feminist approaches ? To these questions, the answer is: No we don't have enough yet, and yes we still need it. The feminist movements are divided into three waves: Wave 1, from 1840 onwards, Wave 2, from 1960 onwards and Wave 3, from 1990 onwards. Whether we are still in the third or already in the fourth wave today is a matter of debate. One thing is certain: women are still underrepresented in social events. What do the AVIA interviews have to do with this now? Through AVIA, women who have worked in secret for decades and shaped the social environment are to be brought into conversation with young women who today take on a lot of responsibility to advance society. This is to give not only young women but also non-binary and young men a broad view of women's lives through the 20th and early 21st centuries.
History is (a) feminine
The narrating grandmothers were born during or shortly after the Second World War, lived under communism and witnessed the fall of several dictatorships in Europe. They are also women who fled their countries from war and repression, whether within Europe or to other regions of the world. This generation has witnessed numerous geopolitical changes, social freedom movements and developments in social thinking. Without warning, our generation was locked up at home for weeks at a time because of Corona. With much warning, the younger generation is trying to bring some sanity and radical action into our consumer society today. My generation and ours is facing big changes that will require a lot of resilience and action. So there is a lot that connects us to our grandparents' generation, not least the need to learn how to deal with crises.
On the one hand, the interviews show the view of older women who tell their stories to a younger generation; on the other hand, they are younger women who describe their view of the present to an older generation. The interviews are dedicated to the female perspective, as this has too often been neglected and ignored in history. Only in recent decades have women's narratives taken on a fundamentally new significance, also in historiography. Through the conversations, women tell their story in a multiple sense: it is not only the story about their own lives as women; it is they themselves who tell this story. And in doing so, they make this story their own.
For centuries, Europe has been a migratory continent with a long and varied history of migration. Europe is a migration society, and not just since yesterday. The shift to the right, racism and nationalism in Europe has been increasingly noticeable for years. The danger: Europe is building itself as a fortress. Who was called refugees, migrants or so-called "guest workers" has changed over the years and geopolitical events. To truly understand the history of Europe, one must go beyond the Eurocentric perspective. To better understand the history of Europe, it is important to also look at the colonial period. and to realise that the Cold War had an impact not only in Europe but also in other parts of the world. Not to forget: Women from non-European backgrounds have made an important contribution to the history of Europe and should be recognised for it. AVIA meets women who have experienced exile and migration, whether from Portugal, Turkey or Afghanistan. AVIA does not see Europe as a rigid continent with one culture and one historical influence, but as a changing, diverse and moving continent. Um die Geschichte Europas besser zu verstehen, ist es wichtig, sich auch mit der Kolonialzeit auseinanderzusetzen. Außerdem sollten wir uns bewusst machen, dass der Kalte Krieg nicht nur in Europa, sondern auch in anderen Teilen der Welt Auswirkungen hatte. Und nicht zu vergessen: Frauen mit nicht europäischem Hintergrund haben einen wichtigen Beitrag zur Geschichte Europas geleistet und sollten dafür anerkannt werden.
AVIA trifft auf Frauen, die Flucht- und Migrationserfahrungen haben, ob aus Portugal, Türkei oder Afghanistan. AVIA versteht Europa nicht als starres Kontinent mit einer Kultur und einem historischen Einfluss, sondern als änderungsvollen, diversen und bewegendes Kontinent.