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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Mediation and circulation of cultural memory in identity settings

Location Ülikooli 16, 215
Date and Start Time 03 July, 2013 at 10:30


Cyril Isnart (Institut d'Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative) email
Sonia Catrina (CSIER-Centre for the Study of the Jewish History in Romania & CEREFREA-Centre Régional francophone de recherches avancées en sciences sociales) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel focuses on the description of mobility and circulation of mediation devices and social imaginaries at work in different heritage experiences, in order to provide a comparative view on identitary constructions, from official to non-official institutions of cultural memory or individuals.

Long Abstract

Starting from the idea that cultural memory is produced, negotiated, contested, present-oriented, and that heritagisation is widely spread among all types of human groups, this panel seeks to analyze the ways in which the heritage logics and tools contribute to structure, represent, mediate and manipulate collective memory in contemporary identitary settings.

Taking into account the link between national, local and individual memories, identity constructions and a globalised context of heritage-making, means both focusing on the political exchanges and social use-value circulation of collective memories within the heritage sphere. We are interested in examining the criteria, devices and values shared, appropriated or contested by "cultural actors", according to which a good might or might not enter "cultural schemes". The memory-identity-heritage-territory interplay needs also to be linked to the social diversity of the "heritage communities", from academic and nation-state institutions to private, ordinary and non-academic structures taking care of the representations of the past.

Very useful insights can be gleaned from the inventory of symbols and devices retained, selected and manipulated by the nation-state to set its compelling identity, the individuals' heritagisation as self-knowledge process granting meaning of their identity as well. We expect papers, in French or English, on circulation between the institutionalised uses of cultural memory and the individuals or minorities' constructions, mediations, and transmissions of memories. In addition, we are interested in papers investigating how not only goods, but also "know-how" of the heritage techniques circulate and are negotiated within the heritage sphere.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Mediation of memory and cultural practices: two Croatian cases

Author: Nevena Škrbić Alempijević (University of Zagreb)  email

Short Abstract

The paper analyzes the role of cultural practices in the construction and circulation of memory. Public celebrations and festivals are seen as arenas in which meanings are attached to images of the past. Birthplaces of notable historical figures, Kumrovec and Ogulin, are used as case studies.

Long Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of cultural practices in the process of memory construction and circulation. Public celebrations and festivals are seen as arenas in which different agents, from political elites and national institutions to tourist boards and nongovernmental organizations, attach new meanings to images of the past. My aim is to show how individuals participating in those practices come to terms with, negotiate or subvert dominant representations of history. I also pay attention to the relationship between the politics of memory and identitary practices of local inhabitants.

Two Croatian cases, related to the production of heritage in birthplaces of notable historical figures, are used to examine these issues. One approaches Kumrovec, a birthvillage of ex-Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, as a realm of memory in socialism and on its treatment after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The importance of the Day of Youth, a celebration of Tito's proclaimed birthday still taking place nowadays, is highlighted. The other deals with Ogulin, a town branded as the Homeland of Fairytales due to the fact that Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, an eminent writer of fairytales, was born there. The focus is on the Ogulin Fairytale Festival as a means by which the memory of the writer comes to life in urban space. Although symbols incorporated in heritage production in those places are different, analysis of mnemonic practices in the two cases reveals a variety of ways in which institutions and individuals design and use public events to create and mediate cultural memory.

Bringing back the Nakba and the Palestinian refugees in the streets of Tel Aviv: circumventing borders and challenging the Israeli society through performances

Author: Eléonore Merza (LAIOS (EHESS- CNRS) / CRFJ (CNRS-MAEE))  email

Short Abstract

This paper examines four performances let by Zochrot NGO that bring into the public sphere the erased memory of the Nakba and alter the traditional divisions of a citizenship based on a powerful dichotomy between "them" (the Absent/ Palestinians/ Minority) and "us" (those Present/ Jews/ Majority).

Long Abstract

In a State that defines itself as democratic and Jewish, a powerful dichotomy between Oneself (Israeli Jews) and the Other (Arabs-Palestinians) exists. One of its meanings is the physical absence of part of the indigenous population in Israel proper. The NGO Zochrot was founded in 2001 to promote awareness among Jewish Israelis to the Nakba and the question of the return of the Palestinian refugees from 1948. These issues are usually perceived by Israeli Jews as a strictly antagonistic to the common rhetoric that supposed that their return means our end and Zochrot's work is the subject of much scathing criticism. Four performances organized between 2010 and 2012 in Tel Aviv will be examined. All these performances bring back a symbolic presence of the absent Palestinian within the Israeli sphere and society.

This paper intends to show in which ways these performances are challenging the traditional dichotomies in Israel between Absents and Presents, between They and Us, between the Other and Oneself, by bringing to the public sphere suppressed human images and ideas. They have the potential to gear an educational process that would foster democratic views and practices among Israelis by embedding the global citizenship in the contemporary Israeli society.

Remake the world of the "defeated men" by the image and by the music: the case of the memory of the steel-making Lorraine

Author: Jean-Louis Tornatore (University of Burgundy (France))  email

Short Abstract

S'appuyant sur les travaux de Ian Assmann et l'approche écologique de J. Gibson, cette communication propose de comparer les médiations par l'image et par la musique dans la construction d'une mémoire culturelle de la Lorraine sidérurgique.

Long Abstract

Le travail de l'image et de la représentation visuelle dans les processus mémoriels a bien été étudié : des sens qui manquent, le voir est celui qui s'impose sur un mode compensatoire et contribue à restituer faiblement un monde perdu. Tel est le constat premier du rôle de la photographie - de l'acte photographique - dans l'accompagnement de la perte du monde ouvrier et sidérurgique en Lorraine dans les années 1980-90. De récentes expériences par la musique, en particulier l'action locale d'un groupe lorrain de musique industrielle, laissent entrevoir des possibilités de restitution et de recréation sonore de ce monde perdu. Je voudrais mettre en comparaison ces deux formes de médiation et, en m'appuyant sur l'analyse de la production de ce groupe et de ses performances, je voudrais interroger en particulier la capacité de la musique à contribuer à l'élaboration d'une mémoire culturelle de la Lorraine sidérurgique. Il s'agira alors d'apprécier la pertinence, d'une part, de mobiliser l'approche écologique inspirée des travaux de James Gibson - et partant de considérer le caractère événementiel des sons, à la différence des couleurs et des formes ; et d'autre part, de prolonger l'analyse assmanienne du rite et de la fête comme mode d'organisation primitif de la mémoire culturelle.

Ma communication pourra être présentée en anglais.

Contested memories in a multiethnic context: forms of commemorations in Cluj-Napoca (Romania)

Author: Albert Zsolt Jakab (Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities)  email

Short Abstract

This paper focuses on the social usage of memory and seeks to explore the multiple roles and functions that the figures and representations of (cultural) memory have played and continue to play in representing, mediating and manipulating collective memory and politics within the multiethnic context.

Long Abstract

Transylvania, annexed to Romania in 1920, is a place of continuous Romanian-Hungarian conflicts. There is always a domain of conflict between the Hungarian minority and the Romanian majority represented by the construction, the invention and commemorative use of the past. In my ethnographic and socioanthropologic analysis I focus on the place-making, memorial monuments and objects, the institutionalized uses of cultural memory and the interethnic relations and symbolic behaviors that stay behind it in contemporary Cluj-Napoca.

The system change of 1989 brought along not only a political fracture, but also one in the imagined past. On the social level resulted in the drama of diminuation of belief in the institutions and authorities. The past constructed up to that point naturally lost its political legitimacy. The period of time after 1989 proved to be one of the most productive regarding local construction of memory; show how great social and political changes reshape attitudes to the past, and reveal differences between the old system and the new. Reinterpretation of the public sphere and the space, its resettlement with past events is a permanent endeavor for dominant groups, and of those in formation. I would like to analyze more deeply the tendencies of past construction, the contested memories and contributes to identitary settings. What previously exposed component of the past was made invisible by the new system? What conflicts were revealed, what kind of identity strategies, legitimating processes and national discourses were put into motion by the construction of (new) memory?

Recycling Catholic memories in Rhodes: circulation of objects, alternative heritage devices and religious minority memory

Author: Cyril Isnart (Institut d'Ethnologie Méditerranéenne, Européenne et Comparative)  email

Short Abstract

This text describes the Catholic cultural heritage claim in Rhodes to show how different layers of memory and heritage devices are recycled and appropriated by a minority in a postcolonial, multiconfessional, World Heritage and tourist context.

Long Abstract

The paper aims at describing the contemporary heritage activities of the Roman Catholic minority of the island of Rhodes. The community is inscribed in a multilayered context including mass tourism, Unesco World Heritage policies, multiconfessional coexistence, long-term Christian presence and Italian postcolonial revival. The Catholics are thus embedded in a singular relation to the different influences of the local history and daily deal with different modalities of preserving, safeguarding and displaying cultural heritage. I examine here the circulation and recycling of at work in the heritage agency of the Catholic Church and show how much these choices are determinate by the internal organization of the Church, by the relationships they build with the other confessions, by their role of host for the thousands Catholic tourists in summer and by the anteriority of their presence in the island. Focusing on the treatment of the liturgical objects, the restoration of their current worship places and claim on their former ones, the paper analyses reformulations, appropriations and circulations of the Catholic heritage agency patterns in Rhodes and disentangles the multiple memories they use to take place in the complex public space.

Staging a dialogue in an Estonian museum: how to show bad people?

Author: Kristel Rattus (Estonian National Museum)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores a museum's attempt to create a dialogical exhibition. In the paper, the question whether the breaking of customized relationships between the themes of cultural history worked as an adequate tool to introduce fresh insights into Estonian cultural discourse will be asked.

Long Abstract

The 1980s saw the rise of a new museological attitude, "more given to asking than answering questions" (Hein 2000, 6) which saw the role of museum exhibitions increasingly as providers of multivocality. This means the need to apprehend culture via describing, interpreting and giving sense to different personalities by means of multipart dialogue to enhance a deeper understanding about culture. Multipart cultural dialogue in the exhibition may derive from the selection of exhibited themes, but it may also evolve during the museum visit between the exhibition and different groups of visitors who interpret the display according to their previous experiences, knowledge, attitudes, values, etc. The ambition to find new ways to talk about culture and make unconventional histories, ideas and viewpoints visible is observable in Estonian museums, too. Present paper addresses the topic by the example of one exhibit named 'Have world-famous people come from Estonia?' from the exhibition by the Estonian History Museum, 'The Spirit of Survival'. The exhibition intended purposefully to break the habitual relationships between objects and the customary structure of cultural historical narrative by displaying objects and cultural topics in new and unexpected connections with each other in order to "freshen up" the trivialized understanding of culture. In the present paper, I aim to explore whether the breaking of customized relationships between the themes of cultural history afforded also to perceive the exhibition in an unconventional way and to introduce fresh insights into Estonian cultural discourse.

La construction du patrimoine et la création de l'identité nationale en Bulgarie socialiste

Author: Krassimira Krastanova (Plovdiv University)  email

Short Abstract

Cette communication présente le processus historique de construction du "grand patrimoine" en Bulgarie soviétique et sa transformation en symboles qui ont servi de pilier de l'identité nationale.

Long Abstract

L'étude du patrimoine est un moyen de réfléchir aux modes de fonctionnement de la société, dont il est lui-même un élément. Les usages du patrimoine permettent de comprendre quelles sont les valeurs qui lui sont attachées et quelles sont les symboles qui ont été choisis pour créer l'image patrimoniale de la nation dans l'espace public.

On peut également observer dans le même temps les différents choix qui ont présidé dans le processus de construction et dégager des dynamiques, des modifications, des inversions des choix patrimoniaux à travers le temps.

Le but de cette communication est de présenter et analyser des exemples de construction du "grand patrimoine" durant la période socialiste de la Bulgarie. Les cas étudiés montrent comment ce patrimoine reflète une partie des stéréotypes de l'histoire bulgare depuis la fondation de la nation et du pays.

On montre comment une certaine politique culturelle participe de la fabrication de l'identité nationale et comment le "grand patrimoine" devient l'un des piliers de la construction nationaliste.

Mediation and circulation of cultural memory in the Romanian (non-)official "patrimonial experiences"

Author: Sonia Catrina (CSIER-Centre for the Study of the Jewish History in Romania & CEREFREA-Centre Régional francophone de recherches avancées en sciences sociales)  email

Short Abstract

This study focuses on the imaginaries which accompany the Romanian (non-)official “patrimonial experiences”. It analyzes the way in which “the historical memory” produced by the cultural professional actors circulates in non-official logics of heritagization.

Long Abstract

This study analyzes the way in which the official logics of heritagization structure, mediate and manipulate the collective memory in the Romanian contemporary individual heritage settings. It examines the practices, the vocabulary as well as the representations of different actors in charge to "make" heritage, such as professional institutional actors, policy makers, museum experts trained in preservation, conservation and cultural mediation or individual actors who undertake an indigenous "heritagization" typical of private family museums. By taking into account the actors' openness to the field of "heritagization" and to that of "goods that are to be heritagized", the study proposes an analysis of the forms whereby identities are institutionalised in parallel with the individual's growing decision making power within his /her own construction. The reflexive approach relates to the realm of "heritagized goods" according to the status of the actors engaged in heritagization, the various discourses on cultural heritage, the reference to the principles and criteria according to which one assesses "patrimonial value" of a specific "good". We assess that the institutional heritagization, "mechanical" and consensual, is competed by the private heritagization, more dynamic, considering heritage as construction.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.