Cultural heritage and corporeality

Herman Roodenburg (Meertens Institute)
Markus Balkenhol (Meertens Instituut)
Tower B, Piso 2, Room T5
Session slots:

Short abstract:

While for a long time analyses of cultural heritage have focused on issues of construction or even 'invention', this panel asks what constructions of cultural heritage actually do in corporeal, sensorial or emotional terms: how some of them come to be experienced as persuasive and binding and others do not.

Long abstract:

Cultural heritage is not given, but constantly in the making: a construction subject to dynamic processes of (re)inventing culture within particular social formations and bound to particular forms of mediation. And yet, the appeal of cultural heritage rests on its denial of being a fabrication, on its promise to provide an essential ground to social-cultural identities. Accordingly, we argue that the success and/or demise of different canons of cultural truth, as they are articulated and performed by competing players, cannot be explained by 'unmasking' them as ever so many 'invented traditions' of 'staged authenticities', let alone by recurring essentializing approaches. As the anthropologist Birgit Meyer has written, the question to be asked is how some canons come to be experienced as persuasive and binding while other fail to do so. One answer to this question is to focus on the 'aesthetics of persuasion', on how mediations of cultural heritage may appeal to the body, the senses, and the lived experience of the groups in question. We welcome papers dealing with this focus, with the often-neglected aspects of corporeality.