Heritage bridges people: towards recovery from wars and disasters (CLOSED - 6) (NME panel)

Location 102a
Date and Start Time 17 May, 2014 at 08:30


Taku Iida (National Museum of Ethnology, Japan) email
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Short Abstract

How do sufferers from wars and disasters recover communal bonds? How does their "heritage" function in the recovery process? Contribution to both heritage studies and community-of-practice theory.

Long Abstract

This panel explores how sufferers from wars and disasters recover communal bonds, and how their "heritage," institutionally designated or not, functions in the recovery process. Heritage here means things collectively approved as valuable and transmitted from generation to generation. Tangible heritage is generally transmitted by physical preservation and reparation, while intangible heritage by repetition in a way loyal to the past performances.

Heritage studies have been fertilized with anthropological data and insights which have their base on local contexts and people's peculiar sense of lives. Above all, anthropologists have discussed people's involvement in keeping heritage in relation to heritage tourism (Lyon and Wells 2012), human rights to heritage (Langfield, Logan and Craith 2010), and intangible heritage (Smith and Akagawa 2009). Wars and disasters, rarely dealt with on the contrary, are even more important topic for heritage studies because the heritage can serve to build, rather than sustain, communities emerging on the devastated natural / social environment. This scope will be useful for the study of communities in general.

This panel invites speakers who have been involved in the recovery from civil wars of three countries (Syria, Somalia and Mozambique) and the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Wars and disasters as matters of "anthropology of heritage"

Author: Taku Iida (National Museum of Ethnology, Japan)  email

Short Abstract

Cultural heritage cannot be inherited without people's involvement in repairing objects or repeating performances. Such people's practices give a collective and consistent character to the heritage, which is menaced by extreme moments of wars and disasters.

Long Abstract

This paper answers two questions: How can anthropology problematize cultural heritage? And why does this new field of "anthropology of heritage" focus on wars and disasters? I answer them based on my experience or the concerned research project.

Cultural heritage is human products that are/should be inherited through generations. But inheritance in a rigid sense is impossible because materials comprising the heritage deteriorate sooner or later. The situation is more difficult in the case of intangible heritage, because no performance cannot be given in the same conditions as precedent ones. Cultural heritage therefore inevitably undergoes transformation through reparation and repetition. So there are no objective criteria to judge whether the heritage is safeguarded properly; but success or failure is estimated totally by the people who share the value of the heritage and are involved in the inheritance. Cultural heritage cannot exist without people.

Such people's contribution to the inheritance has been undermined in the heritage studies where architectures and artifacts are the major objects of analysis. Cultural anthropology, on the other hand, problematizes human practices in general, including both inter-human and human/non-human interactions. Moreover, this discipline has struggled to conceptualize culture as a collective and consistent phenomenon. Anthropology of heritage doesn't begin with conceptualization of culture but describe people's behavior, and hereby try to make theories of collectiveness and consistency.

Wars and disasters are the most extreme moments where people try to recover collectiveness and consistency. This is why anthropology of heritage problematizes them.

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Vision of recovery from the civil war: museums and social ties

Author: Youssef Kanjou (National Museum of Ethonology)  email

Short Abstract

Recovering will be through community development programs based on heritage as a gateway to the community and through the participation of the community itself in reconstructing the relationship (the identity recovery), the museum will be the main engine of rebuilding the elements of the triangle.

Long Abstract

Syria has a long history of heritage (Tangible and intangible) extending to hundreds and thousands of years, as evidenced by many archeological sites such as Palmyra, old Aleppo and old Damascus. With the time formed as kind of material relationship between the people and heritage, and other expression, the long relationship contributed to developed type of heritage cultures both religious, social or economic which changed over time.

Now civil war started with the beginning of 2011, and unfortunately, the battles were in the most important heritage sites in Syria, destroying some of the most important heritage monuments as national and world heritage, and that events was followed by the destruction of the social relation and migration the people outside the heritage sites.

Under this circumstances, we now are looking to form new triangle for new relations; the triangle assumes the post-war restoration and this is what we are in the old city of Aleppo want to do for example, their there are the necessary components are present (heritage site old thousands of years (Tangible and intangible)-Museum-community).

The Triangle consist from monuments, Museum and community. Recovering will be through community development programs based on heritage as a gateway to access within the community and through the participation of the community itself in reconstruct the relationship (the identity recovery), the museum will be the main engine of rebuilding the elements of the triangle.

Building community and peace through heritage in post-conflict Somaliland: preserving heritage as a basic human need

Author: Sada Mire (University of East Anglia, UK)  email

Short Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of Somali heritage and its role in conflict resolution and community building.

Long Abstract

The on-going Somali civil war has had a devastating effect on people as well as their cultural heritage., and continues to cause an immeasurable suffering . The Somali looting of the Somali museums which ensued after the start of the war over two decades ago has not only moved immediately on to looting archeological sites supplying warlords with further weapons but also general public have seen this heritage as a source to feed upon. However, parallel with this process is also a less visible approach that has used common heritage and values to bring people together., and build peace. Somaliland is a great example of this sustaining peace by encouraging local conflict mitigation based on indigenous conflict resolutions system (Bradbury 2008;Walls, 2009). Also in Somaliland recently cultural heritage is used to promote common shared values and build a future from the past. This paper gives examples of cultural heritage projects led by institutions and civil society organizations, which are contributing to the two decades of peace and community building in Somaliland.

Restoration of communities through folk performing arts: kagura performers after the great Tohoku earthquake

Author: Hiroyuki Hashimoto (Otemon Gakuin University)  email

Short Abstract

Based on my own involvement in supporting Unotori kagura, the ritual dance of Fudai, a village near the Pacific coast, I will discuss how folk performing arts could contribute to the restoration of the community and show how kagura performers can sustain their role as they recover from the tsunami.

Long Abstract

Iwate, northern Japan, is known for its abundant resources of folk performing arts, and among them is Unotori kagura, the ritual dance of Fudai, a village near the Pacific Coast. Kagura performers have great significance as benefactors and frequently perform in communities in the region. As the member of Iwate prefectural committee for the protection of cultural properties, I have worked for its designation as the prefecture's Intangible Folk Cultural Property, considering the importance of this tradition in maintaining a regional network.

However, Unotori kagura has been seriously damaged by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Since then, I have started various projects such as inviting them to Kansai area which had been damaged by the Great Hanshin Earthquake, resuming damaged yado (lodging) where they perform for local villagers in communities, and establishing new lodgings and related events, to support not only Unotori kagura but also many groups of folk performing arts in the region. Inspired by the idea of what Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger call 'community of practice', I will discuss how folk performing arts could contribute to the restoration of the community and show how kagura performers can sustain their role as they recover from the disaster.

Memory, heritage and disasters: the cases in Tohoku, Japan and Mozambique

Author: Kenji Yoshida (National Museum of Ethnology)  email

Short Abstract

The rehabilitation process after the Tsunami disaster of 11 March 2011 in Tohoku, Japan, and a peace-building project of transforming arms into art woks which is going on in Mozambique will be discussed in connection with memory, heritage, art and the museum.

Long Abstract

On 11th March, 2011, I was in Kuji, Tohoku District, and met the quake there. Since then, as a scholar who belongs to a museum, an institution of a guardian of heritage, I have been trying to find out what can be done after such a disaster. In the process, with my colleagues, I organized an exhibition entitled "Transmitting memories: Tsunami Disaster and Cultural Heritage" in 2012 to scrutinize the importance of cultural heritage in revitalize the damaged communities. .Meanwhile, as an Africanist, I have also been engaged in a project of commissioning and collecting art works made through the project called TAE (TransformaĆ§Ć£o de Armas em Enxadas) which is going on in Mozambique. It is a project by which weapons remained among people after the end of civil war in 1992 are collected in exchange for hoes, plows, and bicycles, and collected weapons are then transformed into art works by the hands of local artists. The project has been attracting international attention as a model of peace-building after wars. The art works made for National Museum of Ethnology were shown in an exhibition "Transforming Arms into Art" at the same museum last year. Although the nature of disasters is different from each other, both societies face the same issue of how to overcome the tragedy and transmit the memories of the hardship to the future generation while tangible heritages are quickly dismantled or disappeared. The paper will discuss how heritage, art and museums can contribute to the rehabilitation of society.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.