Kocka and Boye Hansen also exchanged views on how romanticism contributed to a split between arts and science, how both art and science relates to the project of nation building, and the position of arts and science in the public sphere. On the importance of history, Jürgen Kocka said:
"I do not know any society or culture which is not interested in the way its past is important for its present, either through legends or myths or in the symbols of religious worship or in the arts or in the visual display on facades of houses and paintings. It seems to me that this is nearly an anthropological constant.
It is a particular achievement of modern societies that we have tried to bring together this type of interest in history on the one hand and scholarly work on the other. After all we know, both in Norway and in Germany, certain memories and constructed myths about ones past have been important for nation building. In a way you would think it would have been much easier to leave it to the myth tellers and story tellers, but in the modern countries there were a point, in 18th or early 19th century, where there emerged a need to do this in a scientific way, to have institutes and professor to do that. At that point a certain element of correction, of criticism, of reflection is introduced into the way societies deal with its past and its present.
We know a lot of societies and cultures, and we could imagine them to exist in the future, without a scholarly dealing with history. But I don’t see any societies or cultures without any interest in history, so in all these respects history matters and historians matter."
Jügen Kocka received the Holberg International Memorial Award 2011. He is a historian of modern Germany and Europe. Presently he is a Permanent Fellow of the International Research Center “Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History” at the Humboldt University Berlin and Senior Fellow of the Center for Research on Contemporary History Potsdam. As a Visiting Professor he teaches regularly at UCLA.
Per Boye Hansen is director of the Bergen International Festival. He has previously been opera director of the Komische Oper Berlin and assistant director at the opera in Cologne and at the Salzburg Festival. From august 2012 Per Boye Hansen is director of the Norwegian National Opera.
The Bergen International Festival is an annual festival which presents music, theatre, dance, opera and visual art. and it runs at the same time as the Holberg Prize events. The festival is the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries.For the last two years the Holberg Prize laureate has met an artist from Bergen International Festival. In 2010 Holberg Prize Laureate Natalie Zemon Davis met Norwegian choreographer Jo Strømgren.