Selecting cultural heritage is linked to belonging, place-making, and exclusion that seemingly matches secularist modernity. But heritagization also involves processes of sacralization. This panel looks at the intersections of de- and re-sacralization in the making of cultural heritage.
The production of cultural heritage is inextricably linked to processes of belonging and place-making. Sites, objects and practices may be selected as cultural heritage when they are thought to express something fundamental about a 'nation', a 'people', or a 'culture'. As a consequence, cultural heritage has come to be understood as a crucial mode of binding, belonging, and exclusion that seemingly fits with the secularist outlook of late modernity. However, while recognizing certain sites, objects and practices as 'heritage' involves a secular gaze (cf. Asad 2003), heritagization also involves processes of sacralization (Meyer & de Witte 2013). Cultural heritage has often, and correctly, been analyzed as part and parcel of processes of place-making, but it is of particular interest how people produce heritage in a religious framework. We understand late modern place-making as both a religious and secular engagement. This panel takes religion and cultural heritage as connected and looks in ethnographic detail at the intersecting tendencies of de- and re-sacralization in the making of cultural heritage. As the process of heritagization involves a selection of those practices deemed central to past, present and future (and those that are not), heritagization is inherently connected to a wide variety of questions concerning inclusion, exclusion and the articulation of the contours of communities. How are religious sites, objects or practices taken up in processes of heritagization and, inversely how does heritage set up forms of sacrality itself? How does heritagization relate to contemporary conflicts in religiously pluriform secular nation states?