SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017

Imperatives of participation in the heritage regime: statecraft, crisis, and creative alternatives (Cultural Heritage and Property Working Group)
Location KWZ 1.701
Date and Start Time 27 March, 2017 at 08:30
Sessions 3


  • Cristina Sanchez-Carretero (CSIC) email
  • Valdimar Tr. Hafstein (University of Iceland) email

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Short Abstract

The current crisis is triggering creative ways to craft alternative heritage scenarios and collaborative interventions. At the same time, scholarship has drawn attention to cosmetic uses of participation. What conflicts and social fractures lurk beneath these uses? What alternatives are created?

Long Abstract

The "participatory turn" in heritage management points toward "democratic" conservation rationales, public engagement, coproduction, capacity building, empowerment and all manner of "bottom-up" approaches. The meaning of participation, however, varies enormously. Indeed, critical scholarship has drawn attention to "cosmetic" uses and the instrumentalization of participation. Scholars have also highlighted how the empowerment of new social actors creates new interfaces with governments, teaching people to have a heritage and building their capacity to "properly" take care of it. Indeed, it may be argued that this is one of the ways in which heritage interacts with notions of belonging and shapes people's ways of dwelling in the world.

Though the participatory turn may often be politicised, contested and riddled with cynicism, the current crisis is triggering creative ways to relate to heritage and to craft alternative heritage scenarios, experimental interventions and collaborative devices. Like the home, heritage is a place of proliferating imaginations, an object of conflicting desires and constant shortcomings, balanced between hegemonic representations and their contestation. It is important to understand how participation, non-participation, and unconventional imaginations can propose alternative paradigms, interrupt the monotony, and nuance the homogeny of authorized heritage discourses.

Some questions we would like to pose include:

- What different shapes does the participatory turn take in the heritage sector?

- What conflicts and social fractures lurk beneath cosmetic uses of participatory technologies?

- What interests, ambitions, and expectations motivate social movements to organize in favour of, or against, heritage?

We welcome ethnographically grounded, theoretically driven analyses, case studies, and comparisons.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


The silent transformation of the participatory turn

Authors: Cristina Sanchez-Carretero (CSIC)  email
Valdimar Tr. Hafstein (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

This paper presents an introduction to the theme of the panel "Imperatives of participation in the heritage regime". It concentrates on the participatory turn in heritage management and policies; as well as on the need to map alternative heritage practices and models.

Long Abstract

None provided.

The predicaments of participatory heritage: the Vaneesterenmuseum in Amsterdam West

Authors: Chiara De Cesari (University of Amsterdam)  email
Anne Beeksma  email

Short Abstract

By looking at the modernist heritage of multicultural Amsterdam West and particularly at the project of the Van Eestermuseum, this paper examines the ambivalence of participatory policies and the ways in which they draw people into their own government.

Long Abstract

How does heritagization articulate with forms of neoliberal, distributed governmentality? This paper reflects on a specific deployment in Amsterdam West of what is the hegemonic discourse of cultural heritage policy since the 1990s, and on its tensions and predicaments. This transnational discourse conceives of heritage and culture as resources to be mobilized for other, non-cultural purposes, and particularly for promoting tourism-led socio-economic development and for solving a number of social ills. Secondly, this discourse fundamentally delegitimizes the role of the state in favor of a broader social "involvement" or "participation" of what is variously called the "people" or the "citizens" or the "local communities" and/or in favor of various kinds of "public-private partnerships". In so doing, cultural policy has appropriated the language and forms of grassroots organizing and turned them into governmental devices. By looking at the modernist heritage of multicultural Amsterdam West and particularly at the project of the Van Eestermuseum, this paper will examine the ambivalence of participatory policies and the ways in which they draw people into their own government.

"We are the true architects of the Park!": (Non)participation, creativity and conflict in National Park Peneda-Gerês (Portugal)

Author: Humberto Martins (UTAD)  email

Short Abstract

The rhetoric of participatory methodologies cannot obscure two facts: local dwellers do not feel respected and things occur beyond formal processes. Creativity and adaptive responses by those who live in a Portuguese National Park allows us to have a more vivid picture of the actual life of a NPA.

Long Abstract

Natural Protected Areas are heritage sites created in many cases upon the resistance of many of their customary dwellers who, inversely, claim to be their true architects. History shows how conflictive has been the implementation of these territorial reserves and landscapes. Basically and to sum up a long and complex debate, there are various and conflictive perspectives on what is meant to be conservation and the priorities of allowed human activities. In the Portuguese Classified Areas System, Human activities are regulated through two main legal frameworks - Plano de Ordenamento (Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act) and Carta de Desporto da Natureza (Nature Sports Chart) both object of public consultation and the former to be revised each five years. However, for many of the local dwellers these participatory methodologies are simply formal obligations, which the management authorities do have to apply. In other words participation serves much more to inform about new rules or assumptions rather than to receive substantial contributes from those who live in these areas. The paper approach this subject from a critical perspective that invites us to look at individual and creative responses that finally claims more complexity to clearly a non-dichotomic process. Who is who when and how? This a revelatory question that suggests us to look at circumstantial and adaptive negotiations by the individuals who have different interests in NAPs.

Natural heritage, public participation and different regimes of truth

Author: Jose Antonio Cortes Vazquez (CSIC (Spain))  email

Short Abstract

Participatory forms of governance in the field of natural heritage and natural protected areas tend to reproduce pre-existing regimes of truth. In this paper I show how this explains the different attitudes, resistances, engagements and disengagements with the participatory process among local stakeholders.

Long Abstract

This paper examines different governmental strategies that have been designed to promote public participation in natural protected areas in Andalusia (Spain) over the last few decades. Based on the existing literature and on the ethnographic study of a particular case -the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park- during a period of ten years, I reflect about the outcomes of these participatory strategies. Rather than to evaluate their success in integrating local stakeholders' interests and concerns into decision-making, I examine how these governmental strategies are enmeshed into different 'regimes of truth', which remain unquestioned throughout the entire participatory process. These regimes not only justify at the level of discourse the introduction of conservation measures, but also bring about an assemblage of technologies of self and of government at a distance. In such circumstances, participation ends up reproducing these same governmental technologies and therefore the social fractures and power relations that they generate. I use this argument to explain the different attitudes, resistances, engagements and disengagements with the participatory process in natural protected areas throughout the entire period of my research.

Participatory frictions across ICH global governance: the Brazilian channels of community participation

Authors: Chiara Bortolotto (EHESS)  email
Morena Salama (EHESS)  email

Short Abstract

By following the social life of the ICH Convention we land on the Brazilian safeguarding regime and critically explore its interpretation of the UNESCO call for community participation, shedding light on the limitations and controversies emerged with the implementation of the ICH Convention.

Long Abstract

"Participation" of "communities", keywords of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, are far from being globally understood in the same way. These global buzzwords compromise with national and local institutional approaches to heritage management, with existing national legislations, political priorities as well as with available technical skills and academic corporations. The first part of this presentation introduces the project "UNESCO frictions: heritage-making across global governance" which ethnographically follows the social life of the UNESCO Convention across the different scales of its implementation in China, Brazil and Greece and explores the tensions arising in the translation of the imperative of participation imposed by an international norm into national heritage institutions and local projects.

In the second part the attention is drawn to the Brazilian case study. We will focus on the main channels created by the Brazilian state in order to foster the participation of communities in the implementation of safeguarding processes that take place after an intangible element is officially declared "National Cultural Heritage". These participative tools are: the constitution of deliberative committees, the drafting of safeguarding plans and the "shared management" of public cultural centres. Drawing on the safeguarding process of the samba de roda we will illustrate the controversies, limitations and achievements triggered by these participative channels while exploring some of the issues that have been challenging the application of the participative call of the ICH Convention on the ground.

Mapping "heritage communities": potentialities of "diffuse participation"

Authors: Victoria Quintero Moron  email
Antonio Luis Díaz-Aguilar (Universidad Pablo de Olavide)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on an ethnographic case study, this paper analyses the “participative paradigm”. Our paper examines the “heritage community” as a set of overlapping maps with mismatched boundaries. The concept of “diffused participation” is proposed to understand flexible participative forms.

Long Abstract

Drawing on an ethnographic case study about the "Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba" (Andalusia, Spain), this paper analyses the "participative paradigm" promoted by the UNESCO 2003 Convention and its effect on locals "heritage regimes". The "Fiesta de los Patios" was included on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2012 and nowadays it has become a massive tourist attraction. Our paper examines how the "heritage community" can be described and defined in the "Fiesta de los Patios" as a set of overlapping maps with mismatched boundaries. However, these maps would be very different if we consider the positions and perceptions of involved actors. Our aim is to map out these other positions and perceptions in order to show how legitimacies and hierarchies are articulated and how decision-making occur.

Instead of an exclusive political point of view on heritagization and the idea of community shaped by power, we sustain that the production and reproduction of practices depends on emotions, affects and acts of caring. Understanding these other maps allows us to render visible the networks of affect and care that are established among differents actants (human and no-humans actants). To highlight this, we observe how some local groups develop alternatives ways of heritage management, action and narrative and how they are going further the limits fixed by institutional language. In this sense, the concept of "diffused participation" is proposed to understand flexible participative forms and as an analytic tool for care and dwelling paradigms.

Participation: introducing new actorhood in the heritage decision making process?

Author: Malin Weijmer (University of Gothenburg)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper actors as ‘knowledgeable agents’ will be discussed in terms of participatory heritage processes. By using two case studies from a Swedish context the negotiation of actorhood will be analyzed and put in relation to the emergence of spaces for influence and co-creating heritages.

Long Abstract

Since the late twentieth century the official heritage policies in Sweden has been guided by a political ambition for engaging with a diversity of heritage sites and including the plural public interpretations of heritage values and meanings. In addition several specified national projects highlighting inclusion and participatory processes in heritage management have been run by the official agencies during the last twenty years. Yet, the participatory turn in the Swedish official heritage management is still under-researched. There is a lack of knowledge on how actorhood and heritage claims are negotiated and contested in the participatory processes.

The paper aims to discuss whether the idea of participation as a practice leads to a re-negotiation of actors, spaces for inclusion and claims on heritage or not. This will be done by comparing two cases that focuses on participation as a dissonant process rather than consensus-led approach. Case one concerns a dialogue process led by the official heritage manager to document a multivocal place. Case two concerns the production of a heritage plan for a municipality with the enrolment of local publics. Using actorhood and knowledgeability in terms of discretion and position and control, heritage management is here thought of in terms of authoritative resources and legitimizing claim-making. Participation is then understood as facilitating new resources (allocative) with the potential to rearrange authoritative position. Giddens (1993) notion on actors as 'knowledgeable agents' are a guiding theoretical frame work together with the understanding of heritage as a 'cultural imaginary' (Dawson 1994).

Loam and maintenance: facets of an alliance illustrated with German half-timbered houses

Author: Dorothee Hemme (Göttingen University)  email

Short Abstract

By highlighting knowledge and practices of professional craftsmen and laymen builders in the field of loam, the paper reveals differential attitudes towards architectural as well as crafts heritage driven by the rediscovered building material loam.

Long Abstract

Loam and half-timbered buildings have formed a strong alliance in Germany over centuries, based on the plentiful occurrence of loam in many regions and the wide spread and uncodified knowledge about its use. Innovations in the realm of building materials in the 20th century provided more efficient opportunities to maintain the half-timbered house-heritage. They pushed aside the use of loam in the maintenance of these historic buildings. As ecological awareness gained in potency in the 1980s and as the harmful qualities of once innovative building materials began to surface, various actors rediscovered loam as building material. Simultaneously, the hegemonic discourse surrounding the maintenance of architectural heritage increased. Within this matrix, differential interests can be observed: there is a growth of standards for loam buildings; the slowly reemerging loam building branch seeks to monopolize what was once a "people's building material" and craftsmen and private home owners display a growing passion for loam and seek to reestablish both the knowledge about and use of this traditional building material. Next to the participatory imperative, this complex field is thus riddled with the imperatives of regulation and economic interest.

The paper draws on my contribution within an ongoing interdisciplinary BMBF project on experiential knowledge in craftsmanship between tradition and innovation. Guided by the agency of loam itself and the enthusiasm it is capable of generating, I will discuss the intermeshing of heritage management, heritage practices and a growing loam-market and modes of participation, creativity and contestation that arise within the groundswell of maintaining half-timbered architectural heritage.

European museums of ethnography in the global sphere: new complicities in the age of heritage communities?

Author: Sandra Ferracuti (Linden-Museum Stuttgart)  email

Short Abstract

A case study from the Linden-Museum Stuttgart: perspectives, methodology and aims of the foundation of the ABRAC (Advisory Board for the Representation of African Collections), a German "heritage community".

Long Abstract

In January, 2016, I have been appointed curator for the Africa collections at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart. I here wish to share and discuss the perspectives, methodology, and aims that guide my current dialogue with the members of the "ABRAC" (Advisory Board for the Representation of African Collections at the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, founded last July): a group of German citizens of African descent.

I view our collaboration in the light of the concept of "heritage community", introduced in Council of Europe´s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro, 2005). Even though many of the most economically and politically powerful European countries have not signed - let alone ratified - this convention, its text has been giving food for thought to museum and heritage scholars, civil society organizations members, and professionals throughout the continent for a decade now.

In its light, heritage communities, consisting of "people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations" (Council of Europe, 2005, art. 2 - "Definitions", comma b), are a fully eligible, possible new actor in the public arenas where cultural heritage´s "tournaments of value" (Appadurai, Introduction: Commodities and the Politics of Value, in "The Social Life of Things. Commodities in Cultural Perspective", Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 21) are being played so as to contribute to craft the possible futures of a world in turmoil.

Rethinking cultural brokerage

Author: Robert Baron (Goucher College)  email

Short Abstract

Culture brokerage studies emphasize the agency of brokers acting for communities to facilitate access to resources and cultural representation. It should instead be seen as transactional, with interplay of personal and professional as well as socially and culturally ameliorative interests for all involved.

Long Abstract

Culture brokerage studies relating to heritage emphasize the agency of the broker acting for and on behalf of a community to facilitate access to resources and cultural representation. I contend that cultural brokerage should instead be seen as transactional, with interplay of personal and professional as well as socially and culturally ameliorative interests for all actors involved. Heritage interventions by cultural brokers are carried out for mutual benefit as well as self-interest. They contain relationships of authority which may be symmetrical, complementary, asymmetrical as well as metacomplementary at different times. These relationships contain mutuality, tensions, contradictions and ambiguities.

Rethinking cultural brokerage is particularly timely for heritage theory and practice as new approaches for operationalizing the UNESCO ICH participation mandate are being actively conceived and implemented. This paper will draw from studies of cultural brokerage in folklife, applied anthropology, international development and health care, identifying interests and authority relationships in multiple kinds of mediations. I will apply concepts of transactional interaction and of interest from transactional psychoanalysis and the psychology of interest.

I contend that cultural brokers should be continually reflexive about authority relationships and the need to enable the agency of those they assist, with the ongoing objective of enabling cultural self-determination and equipping communities to address their own needs after the culture broker leaves. Dialogism and reciprocity should be ongoing, while acknowledging the multiple interest of all involved.

Heritage by negotiation: the case of old buildings and urban renewal in Reykjavík

Author: Ólafur Rastrick (University of Iceland)  email

Short Abstract

The ideal of democratic participation in matters of heritage infers a process of negotiation of value. By way of a series of interviews with locals in Reykjavík, offering contrasting perceptions of the built environment, the paper contributes to an interrogation of the idea of heritage community.

Long Abstract

A significant factor in exploring how people relate to the urban environment has to do with how the past features in the present, how older buildings and streetscapes figure as tactile medium of layers of history that foster sensations of belonging and charm but also of detriment and shame.

In the current phase of reconstruction and renewal in Reykjavík city centre, fuelled by a sharp increase in tourism, city authorities and investors have capitalized on the appeal of the low-rise timber buildings dating from the 19th and early 20th century. A phase of gentrification has coincided with relocation of old moveable timber buildings and construction of new houses that replicate older designs and styles. The resident community has met this development with mixed feelings, some welcoming greater recognition of the city's built heritage.

The paper offers a case study based on a series of interviews with residents and others locals that go about their every-day life in the city for work or pleasure. The interviews offer testaments of the multifarious and often contradictory relations individuals constitute with the 'haunted places' of the cityspace, based on differing memories and symbolic appraisals. Thus, the interviews reveal the complexities of negotiating shared communal understandings of something as open for different readings as the cityscape. The paper juxtaposes these conflicting everyday perceptions of the built environment to calls for democratic participation and the notion of 'heritage community' as conceptualized in policy documents such as the Faro Convention.

Political imperatives in heritage regime and creative collaborative scenarios

Authors: Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu)  email
Anita Vaivade (Latvian Academy of Culture)  email

Short Abstract

This paper proposes a comparative study of political imperatives of community involvement that are devised by the authorized heritage discourse and the locally refined modes of creative collaborative efforts on the ground. We discuss our participatory experience on international and local level.

Long Abstract

This paper proposes a comparative study of political imperatives of community involvement that are devised by the authorized heritage discourse and the locally refined modes of creative collaborative efforts on the ground.

Based on our participatory experience in representing Estonia and Latvia, the authors embrace a decade in the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2006-2016) in order to critically reflect upon the progress and rhetorical nuances of decisions taken, both on particular nominations as well as the stance expressed. The international discursive framework is shaped by advocating inclusiveness and preventing appropriation, and yet the debates we have observed eschew addressing the complex political limits of participation.

At the same time, the stated imperatives have their impact on local heritage processes, to be considered or contested. While we are particularly interested in the post-nomination circumstance, our comparative case study considers community-driven and negotiated collaborative efforts. Seto community in Estonia and Suiti community in Latvia have both their experience of UNESCO nominations, and both find diverse ways of using heritage resources for their own goals, but also in their continued creative collaboration.

While international cooperation modes and imperatives, and also national policies provide a particular frame for potential collaborative initiatives, communities nevertheless remain as initiators as well as decision makers for the activities to come, and a growing self-esteem proves to be a basis for developing alternative collaborative scenarios.

Advocacy, education, transmission & celebration: safeguarding traditional music in Scotland

Author: Carley Williams (University of Aberdeen)  email

Short Abstract

NGOs are key to implementing UNESCO’s 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of ICH. Drawing on my fieldwork, I will present a case study of traditional music organisations in Scotland, examining some of the issues and challenges encountered on the ground in the safeguarding processes.

Long Abstract

The Operational Guidelines of UNESCO's 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage highlight the role of NGOs in the safeguarding processes and practices at the core of the Convention, and in keeping ICH alive. One might argue they are essential to the successful implementation of the Convention.

Although the UK has not ratified the 2003 Convention, grassroots organisations in Scotland have been performing many safeguarding functions through advocacy, education, transmission and celebration. This presentation will draw on my ethnographic fieldwork to develop a case study of traditional music organisations in Scotland, examining some of the issues and challenges encountered on the ground in the safeguarding processes. I will look at how NGOs might best be supported to continue their work to foster an environment that allows all forms of ICH 'to be created, maintained and transmitted', reflecting Janet Blake's definition of safeguarding, (Blake, 2007, p.3) and how we might facilitate knowledge-exchange from the top down and, more importantly, bottom-up between policy makers, government, NGOs and communities.

My PhD research examines how we might integrate these tried and tested community-led models into a national safeguarding infrastructure. Based in ethnographic fieldwork and placing the voices of the communities and practitioners at the foreground of my work, I aim to reflect Carl Lindahl's statement that 'the work of a folklorist' 'is by definition a work of advocacy,' with an ultimate goal 'to discover, understand and represent people on their own terms'. (Lindahl, 2004, p.175)

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.