SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011
Making heritage, making knowledge
Location Block 1, Piso 0, Aud. 1
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 16:30
Understanding cultural heritage requires critical investigation into how knowledge of heritage is made and disseminated, and how it generates categorical distinctions, exclusions and inclusions. This panel has been convened to explore the various interfaces of heritage making and knowledge production.
A formation of recent vintage, seized upon by a vast array of actors under a variety of circumstances in hundreds of thousands of scattered places, the success of cultural heritage in recent years and decades has been phenomenal. Mobilizing people and resources, reforming discourses and transforming practices, cultural heritage changes the world.
The recent re-theorization of heritage as a social construction and cultural practice combines places and people, objects and expressions while drawing attention to the process of heritage-making. On the ground, cultural heritage is a strong and flexible language for staking claims to culture and claims based on culture. As an asset for acquiring socio-political capital, as a channel for economic resources, and as a frequent bone of contention, cultural heritage plays an important role in the global politics of culture.
The construction and identification of cultural heritage is always an act of politics and power; it depends on who defines cultural heritage and who has the control to conceptualize its stewardship. Cultural heritage plays on the categories of time and space, on continuity and locality in contrast with their opposites. A value-laden project of ideology, it makes claims for ownership, purity, and restitution. At the same time, analysing how cultural heritage is identified and instrumentalised requires critical investigation into how knowledge of heritage is made and disseminated, and how it generates categorical distinctions, exclusions and inclusions.
This panel has been convened to explore the various interfaces of heritage making and knowledge production.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Cultural heritage and the theory of repetition
This paper draws on the recent re-theorization of heritage as a social construction, cultural practice, and act of politics and power, but tries to offer a slightly different viewpoint by bringing up for discussion selected theories of repetition and reiteration.
If 'heritage' stands for all forms of traditional culture, if 'tradition' denotes the handing over, and therefore the transmission of such cultural forms, and if 'transmission' stands for the diffusion, and therefore the repetition of these forms, then 'heritage' is repetition. Present-day theories on heritage making do not, however, emerge from such apparently non-analytical insights. On the contrary, recent analytical discourses on cultural heritage tend to focus on the political nature of heritage production, emphasizing the property and ownership aspect to both tangible and intangible heritage, and the related issues of social power and ideological conflict. Heritage is not, then, 'mere' repetition. Still, repetition is not an alien concept in the undertaking of cultural analysis, including the processes of heritage making. The temporal arguments in heritage production can be viewed as constituting socially constructed acts of repetition and reiteration. From this perspective, the study of heritage production might gain from renewed insights into theories of culture as repetition. It is the purpose of the present author to look into these and suggest a theme issue on the topic in Ethnologia Europaea.
Framing folklore, framing heritage
Folklore, identity and heritage are all subsets of culture, and isolated in the form of text or artifact from a flow and from a social and historical process. As concepts whose stability is their raison d’être, they protect against the ravages of time. This paper will ask whether current notions of heritage are still imprisoned within this static model.
Folklore, identity and heritage are all subsets of culture, and isolated in the form of text or artifact from a flow and from a social and historical process. As concepts whose stability is their raison d'être, they protect against the ravages of time. This paper will ask whether current notions of heritage are still imprisoned within this static model. Has the notion of intangible cultural heritage broken out of the cage? Has its origin in the deliberations of a non-state actor released it from the preoccupations of national identity?
Knowledge and power in the UNESCO World Heritage system
I analyse how the growth of UNESCO World Heritage into a major global brand has spawned a new domain of systematised knowledge and the corresponding web of institutions. How did this evolve, and how much influence does knowledge - as against "dumb power" - really have in World Heritage decisions?
The recent development of UNESCO World Heritage, the most influential arena of heritage preservation today, has been one of tremendous growth in all respects, and global attention demands well-founded and coherent decisions. Therefore, rules, categories, procedures and standards have greatly evolved, particularly since the 1990s, and are now the subject of specialised university studies. To a Foucauldian notion of governmentality, the steady elaboration of this new knowledge domain - that, through its influence on national heritage systems, appears to be the globally most homogenising consequence of World Heritage - is unsurprising. "Dumb power" that cares little for the carefully crafted expert terms and systems, however, continues to play a significant role, and the 2010 Committee session in Brasilia saw what could be termed a standoff between the two modes. Based on participant observation of statutory meetings, interviews with key players, and an analysis of the vast documentary record, I will explore how much power knowledge really has in the World Heritage system.
Sex, lies and heritage
The UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention is expressly subordinate to international human rights norms such as sex equality. What it safeguards, however, generally reflects traditional patriarchal socio-cultural ordering. How is this contradiction dealt with (papered over?) in practice?
The preamble of the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage refers to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), which expressly forbids discrimination based on sex. Unlike the Convention, the UDHR is a resolutely modernizing document, seeking to transform societies that use ascribed categories such as sex or race to create and perpetuate social inequality.
Clearly, the inclusion of the UDHR within the ICH framework produces contradictions. The most obvious of these have been dealt with: overtly patriarchal practices such as excision are not accepted by the Intergovernmental Committee for inclusion on the Intangible Heritage Lists. But this exclusion leaves unresolved the more subtle ways in which gender permeates the entire heritage paradigm.
Examined through the lens of cultural heritage, traditional societies' emphasis on sex difference takes on a very different colouring. Women are assumed to play a key role in the transmission of traditional culture, from the singing of lullabies to informal socialization, to the worship of fecundity goddesses. An entire counter-narrative of sex-role "complementarity" is available to justify traditional sex-based social organization, as is evident from many items honoured on the UNESCO Lists.
In this paper, I will examine how this implicit logic of sex difference is handled (or not), and what kinds of compromises and blindness this leads to. At a more general level, I ask how the UNESCO paradigm can preserve "cultural diversity" within the UN framework that, for better or for worse, aims to reduce and even eliminate "social diversity" in certain clearly articulated ways.
Knowledge production and the National Museum
This presentation proposes to focus on the making of scholarly knowledge in the context of cultural heritage research and its social dissemination or contestation in the museum space. I will study the institutionalized context and the politicized framework of ethnographic studies in Soviet Estonia.
This presentation proposes to focus on the making of scholarly knowledge in the context of cultural heritage research and its social dissemination or contestation in the museum space. I will study the institutionalized and the politicized framework of ethnographic studies in Soviet Estonia. The museal 'knowledge production' practices represent ambivalently the expertise and institutions engaged in the research and collecting of cultural heritage, and their interaction with the general public in that process from a historical perspective under particular socio-political circumstance. The institutionalized context thus defined and the time constraint guides my perspective on the ideological shifts affecting ethnographic studies. The empirical material for the analysis of the formation of ethnographic sources and ethnographic collecting practices are based on the institutionalized knowledge deposited at the Estonian National Museum.
The process of institutionalization denotes in essence a relocation from the margins to the centre - the establishment of canons, the conceptualization of paradigmatic truths and the fixation of sociocultural practices or products in a meaningful, manageable and celebrated format. The formation of a cultural/academic institution - both from the perspective of matter and practices - involves categorizations, exclusions and inclusions in identifying the knowledge to be sought and the representations created. The making of a museum, the establishment of depositories for past repertoires, and for records of past cultural practices and artefacts has inherently served the purpose of creating a national cultural heritage, which requires continuous critical retrospection.
Unknowing a museum: memories and proposals for Lisbon's Folk Art Museum
This paper proposes to analyse the processes related with the evolution of Lisbon's Folk Art Museum. Initially a project of right-wing nationalistic indoctrination it became the subject of a current public discussion were its own original purpose is now being considered as cultural heritage.
Created in the late 1940's the Folk Art Museum in Lisbon (Museu de Arte Popular, MAP) was the final work of Salazar's chief of propaganda António Ferro. Its original goal was to make a presentation of Portuguese folk arts combining ethnographic objects with modernistic murals and architectural interpretations of rural and folk themes.
Presented originally as a "showcase of national good taste" and as a "fountain of inspiration to the modern artists" it quickly fell out of favour by the authorities. Under budget and without technical facilities, the museum survived until 1999 when the collapse of a roof led to an extensive renovation that has yet to be finished. In 2006 the Ministry of Culture announced the museum's dissolution and the creation of a new one dedicated to the Portuguese language in the same building. This led to a public outcry and the creation of an informal "Friends of MAP" lobbing group. Throughout the media, art historians, entrepreneurs, contemporary artists, architects and anthropologists, each claimed the museum as its own heritage, presenting new ideas for a renovated and ideologically clean MAP, sometimes even mutually exclusive ones.
However it was not clear if the message reached the general public, beyond the academic community the MAP was simply regarded as an historical ethnographic museum without a clear ideological connection. This was made clear in 2009 when influenced by some friends of MAP the new Minister declared the museum future reestablishment "as it was and for what it was created".
Making Sámi heritage: representations of Sámi culture and history in museum exhibitions
In this paper, I will discuss the representations of the Sámi in the permanent exhibitions of two Sámi museums. How do the Sámi, previously represented by others, display their culture and history? How do the museums construct Sámi heritage?
Museums are significant places for representing ethnic groups and boundaries. The artifacts in museum exhibitions are given different meanings by different visitors, but the visitor´s process of producing meanings is affected by the way the artifacts are chosen and displayed. By exhibiting culture and history, museums construct heritage and produce power relations.
Sámi museums have been established with the aim of strengthening Sámi cultural identity and exhibiting Sámi heritage. The museums can be seen as part of a larger political strategy, striving to reclaim representations of the Sámi and to make Sámi culture and history visible - to the Sámi themselves as well as to a larger society.
In this paper, I will look at the process of heritage-making in two Sámi museums: Ájtte in Sweden and Siida in Finland. The paper concentrates on the representations of the Sámi in the permanent exhibitions of these museums. How do the Sámi, previously represented by others, display their culture and history? How do the museums construct Sámi heritage?
Heritage, power and ethnicity: a Norwegian case study
The Sami population of Norway has since the 1970’s been fighting on, with and for their own history. Granted the position and rights as an indigenous population within the national borders of Norway, they also have grasped the possibilities within the field of heritage policy and heritage making.
The paper will discuss this Norwegian-Sami example at a certain length, following the development since the 1970’s and until the present days, and direct the attention towards the relationship between hermeneutics and power in the field of heritage making.
The Sami population of Norway has since the 1970's been fighting on, with and for their own history. Granted the position and rights as an indigenous population within the national borders of Norway, they also have grasped the possibilities within the field of heritage policy and heritage making. One of the major fields of conflict has been the museological, where the question of who had the moral and hermeneutical right to display Sami culture and Sami history. Another major conflict field has been within archaeology, where the question of interpretation of findings and sites has been central. A third conflict area has been on ownership: A number of established Norwegian museums have Sami collections. Their display of their collections has been severely challenged by the Sami cultural struggle, but the position has changed from a dispute on display to a dispute on ownership. Should the Sami collections be "repatriated" and put on display in the historical Sami areas in Northern Norway?
Of course, this is also a question of the power of interpretation - often disguised as a question of moral and historical position: If Norway is the colonizer, does it not have to pay its historical debts to the Sami people? On the other hand, is not academic interpretation cross-cultural and free from prejudice in all directions?
The paper will discuss this Norwegian-Sami example at a certain length, following the development since the 1970's and until the present days, and direct the attention towards the relationship between hermeneutics and power in the field of heritage making.
Making noble World Heritage in Tana Toraja, Indonesia
In stratified Toraja society, the nomination of selected sites for World Heritage is highly charged, as their meanings are contested by competing noble headmen. The state institutions engaged in the nomination process and UNESCO have even differing ideas about what may why count as whose heritage.
In the region of Toraja in the highlands of Sulawesi, Indonesia, a process for nomination as World Heritage as Cultural Landscape has been going on - and off - for more than 15 years. With Toraja's history of fierce inter-village competition, status rivalries among noble headmen and a very weak tradition of political unity, the nomination of only a few selected sites is a culturally, politically and economically highly charged process. The nomination was initiated by the powerful and high-ranking noble family of the hamlet Kete Ke'su', which had excellent connections to the Indonesian Department of Tourism. They hoped to use the 'outstanding universal value to all humanity' certified by UNESCO in the local status economy. Noble headman from all over Toraja put forward different histories, memories and meanings of 'their' sites in order to argue for them to be included and others to be taken off the list.
The local nobility, however, is not the only actor in the nomination process: regional and national administrative units of the Indonesian state and the UNESCO representatives have their say as well. Economic considerations, hopes for a revival of tourism, archaeological investigations, scientific claims and a quest for authenticity come also into play.
This paper explores the competing and contesting ways of constructing knowledge of what can legitimately count as heritage, why is may do so - and whose heritage it is supposed to be. It is based on 8 months of fieldwork in Toraja and the administrative institutions engaged in the nomination process.
Heritage, knowledge, and conflict
Heritage is a result of knowledge. This paper discusses the impact of various levels and forms of knowledge in the process of heritage-making by analyzing the metacultural and conflict-laden transformation of a building into an outstanding monument.
In the process of heritage-making knowledge acquires an important role: As a result of metacultural operations, one could argue, heritage is a product of knowledge. It is not only in UNESCO-dominated contexts that scientific knowledge and expertise play a crucial role in identifying heritage and thus in legitimizing efforts of safeguarding. The history of local and national forerunners of an international heritage regime, e.g. the protection of historical monuments, demonstrates how this knowledge can be transformed into normative heritage policy.
In my paper I will analyze a concrete example that demonstrates the impact of knowledge in the process of heritage-making: In 2008 the federal monument protection service of Schleswig-Holstein declared parts of Kiel's university campus, built in the postwar period, a historically and artificially outstanding monument that had to be protected. This incident caused an intense conflict with different actors involved. During this conflict, these actors - students, heritage professionals, politicians etc. - produced different meanings of the place and argued from different points of view. My paper analyzes this process of heritage-making as a process of knowledge production that also resulted in social conflicts. I suggest differentiating various levels and formats of knowledge. In order to contextualize the circumscribed line of reasoning it is also necessary to focus on the history of the preservation of ancient monuments.
World Heritage in the making: making politics and making conceptualizations
This paper will investigate the efforts to promote four different places related to the history of industrialization in Norway to a (shared) place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It will concentrate on the consequences for people's self-understanding, for the professional knowledge of the heritage institutions and for local economic and cultural practices.
In Norway as elsewhere, in recent years the more important new heritage projects have become more internationally oriented, partly as an effect of the attraction of the World Heritage idea. This paper will investigate political, economic and cultural dimensions in the efforts to promote four different places related to the history of industrialization to a (shared) place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The project involves people engaged in activities at very different levels, from local activists and people in general, to heritage institutions and local, regional and national government. It is marked by considerable tension, and different conceptions of the aims and rationale of the project are explicated as positions are shaped and argumented. It is necessary both to make administrative decisions and to construct heritage. In this process, the meaning of the history of industrial society is actualized, as is also the relative significance of local industrial communities for national development and the understanding of the paths of future development for the same communities.
Compared to most national heritage projects of the past, there are several new aspects to this, among them, the scale, the implications for local economic activity, and the reinterpretation of recent history, which has implications for the self-understanding of living people. At the same time, the knowledge of the professional heritage workers is changing with their expanding work field.
Making Swiss intangible cultural heritage: tensions between the centre and its peripheries
The process of listing “living traditions in Switzerland” highlights political challenges with regards to the relation between centre and peripheries. This paper will explore Swiss federalism as an original model for the making of intangible cultural heritage and the production of national knowledge.
Switzerland ratified the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008. This paper explores the making of intangible cultural heritage in a particular political context -Swiss federalism - and analyzes the kinds of knowledge created through this process.
In 2010, after two years of negotiations with experts from different political levels (federal, cantonal, city), a national program was launched for identifying Switzerland's "living traditions". The program emphasizes the need for bottom-up procedures for identifying these traditions, the aim being to come up with a list of approximately one hundred items supported by "civil society". According to the principle of subsidiarity that governs Swiss cultural policy, the Federal Office for Culture is responsible for conceptualizing the program and making the final decisions about which items will figure on the national list; for their part, Switzerland's 26 cantons are responsible for identifying the relevant items and submitting them to the Federal Office.
This paper analyzes the precise mechanisms by which inventories are currently being constituted. It argues that this process reflects the tension surrounding the sensitive place of culture within a federal state, and examines the (typically) Swiss compromise that tries to resolve this tension, sorting items into three types of lists: a highly selective list for international purposes (UNESCO); a "representative" but exclusive list to be used as a national platform; and numerous residual cantonal "portaits", on which local items excluded from the international and national lists may figure, satisfying, it is hoped, the "bearers of tradition" who proposed them.
Legal ground: metaphysical place for heritage making
Legal ground is a metaphysical place where social world is put into legal terms. They serve as categories linking human experiences to potential legal considerations. The paper examines the case of intangible cultural heritage, confronting universal legal language to local perceptions.
Law has a significant role within the process of heritage making. It is a tool for naming and identifying things in the broadest sense of this word. Law provides definitions, descriptions and criteria for linking human experiences to adopted legal terms as the ones being in force, that is to be applied, interpreted and explained. Legal ground is certainly shifting. It can reflect a change of paradigms and a query for varied ways of naming and identifying. Nevertheless, it remains enforced at the time of its application.
The concept of cultural heritage has a variety of modes described by law. It is internationally recognized and experiences a growth of its use. At the meantime there are more and more challenges as its international use is confronted to local linguistic experiences.
The functioning of categories provided by law depends significantly on the experience of language. In other words, certain categories might be misused or misunderstood only because of unfamiliar choice of legal terms. In a certain way, this is the case of the concept of intangible cultural heritage that can be perceived as having breathtaking success on international level, but that also has significant challenges on local levels where choices of terms used can be based on different grounds.
The paper examines what are the consequences of the invasion of international law within languages that differ considerably and have diverse histories and experiences of using legal terms.
"Swiss watch-making hasn't changed!" The production of historical continuities and the heritagization of the watch-making industry in the Swiss Jura region
The political formation of a recent category of watch-making heritage in the Swiss Jura region will be here adressed. I ask which forms of knowledge are mobilized to construct this heritage and how does it generate other forms of knowledge that support new political, social and scientific projects.
Since the 18th century, the watch-making industry has been crucial in the economic rise and to the identity construction of the Swiss Jura region. Not surprisingly, on March 25th 2003, the council of the Neuchâtel state passed a motion, calling for the "valorization of watch-making heritage in the Neuchâtel territory".
Crystallizing the preoccupations of local leaders around regional developpment issues, this political gesture initiated the creation of an important number of projects which attempt to link the polymorphic notion of cultural heritage and the current forms or historical traces of the local watch-making industry.
Thus, for the past fifteen years, regional fields of industry, culture, tourism and politics have all been involved in bringing life to the structuring category of "watch-making heritage" and vice versa, they have taken on the permanent recreation of it. Indeed, this category is continually mobilized by local actors and politics to support scientific writings, political actions, tourism strategies, brand marketing and, recently, application to the UNESCO's Heritage List.
In postulating that the construction of such a watch-making heritage necessarily requires the production of historical continuities that justify the link between the past and the present, the aim of this paper is double. First, I ask which forms of knowledge must social actors use to produce these continuities. Second, I ask how the uses of this category of watch-making heritage induce the production of new representations of history and new ways of knowing which support new political, social and scientific projects.
Birth and life of historic centres in metropolitan areas
What are the criteria to consider an urban area an historical centre? Are global criteria (like UNESCO recommendations) appropriate for local contexts? What is the role of the historical centres located in suburban metropolitan areas for in municipal heritage politics?
After World War II, historical centres have gained importance in heritage politics. Recommendations and legislation concerning these urban areas have increased over the last decades, both at an international and at a national level.
The first areas defined as historic centres were the places where the main cities were born and where the major concentrations of architectural monuments took place. Nevertheless, in the last few years, the suburban communities have struggled to identify and to promote their urban roots and the number of local historical centres has grown.
This paper will discuss the processes of identifying, classifying and managing these historic centres, in a metropolitan context. It will focus on the impact of these historic centres on local and metropolitan heritage policies. The case study is the Setubal peninsula, located at the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.