SIEF2017 13th Congress: Göttingen, Germany
26-30 March 2017

(Heri04)
Contentious war cultural heritage
Location KWZ 1.731
Date and Start Time 29 March, 2017 at 08:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Jurij Fikfak (Research Center ) email
  • Miha Kozorog (Scientific Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) email

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Short Abstract

The panel aims to bring together case studies:

- of war heritage, as it is made, transformed, or dissolved under the pressure of local, national, and international policies;

- of reconciliation processes where "nations" formerly at odds join together in commemoration of suffering.

Long Abstract

The legacy of twentieth-century Europe is imbued with wars; memories of these wars in concrete, materialized impressions of war have regularly been transformed into heritage, largely in order to warn later generations about atrocities and thus make the world a better place. Yet—a century after the First World War I, seven decades after the Second World War, and twenty years after Srebrenica—the world does not seem to be a more peaceful place. Preservation of war heritage has certainly played an important role in peacekeeping policies, but nevertheless it has also been subject to local, national, and international policies without this agenda. Remembering war as humanity's fall is worthwhile in its own right; however, more often the memory is linked to other messages—for example, about the heroism of nations, international allies, a civilization's unity, and so on. Nowadays, heritage production and preservation must often also be economically justified, frequently in light of "projectization" of culture and (dark) tourism.

The panel aims to bring together case studies: - of war heritage, as it is made, transformed, or dissolved under the pressure of local, national, and international policies; - of reconciliation processes where "nations" formerly at odds join together in commemoration of senseless suffering.

Only through comparison of different (inter)national and historical contexts of war heritage production we can better reflect on the social role of such heritage, particularly on its role in peacemaking policies.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

(Self)referential discourses and practices: cases on the border

Author: Jurij Fikfak (Research Center )  email

Short Abstract

Alongside the many monuments and memorials to the First and Second World Wars, monuments to victories or defeats, old forms and practices of commemoration are increasingly receding and making space for new discourses and new commemoration and identity practices.

Long Abstract

Alongside the many monuments and memorials to the First and Second World Wars, monuments to victories or defeats, and alongside the innumerable names written on them, old forms and practices of commemoration are increasingly receding and making space for new discourses and new commemoration and identity practices.

Until recently, various self-referential discourses were characteristic of these places. At the local level, and somewhat less at the regional level, these are constitutive for local identity: for remembering relatives, which allows integration of the dead into the community of the living. At the ethnic and national levels, they are constitutive for awareness of one's own nation and language, and at the same time are entwined with concepts of victims, victory, territorialization, and so on. New discourses and practices also open a new horizon, a new re-evaluation of perspectives on war and on the heritage of memorials to battles and death.

The contentious heritage of WWI and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes

Author: Bozidar Jezernik (University of Ljubljana)  email

Short Abstract

The newly nation-state of the South Slavs established as a result of WWI was seen as a realisation of a thousand-year-old dreams. The burden of the war heritage, though, showed to heavy for this to happen.

Long Abstract

When the Great War was finally over, a large part of Europe was questioning its sense. The issue likewise arose during numerous commemorations dedicated to the memory of the fallen soldiers, which in the early post-war years took place day after day on different parts of the Continent. Like everyone else, the people of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were faced with contemplating the purpose of the terrible war and the harrowing loss of human life. Their self-reflection and their quest for answers, though, were additionally burdened by the fact that many citizens of the nation of three names had during the war been fighting for armies on the opposing sides of the front. This circumstance alone was a sizeable obstacle for reaching an "official," unanimous war memory, further compounded by the fact that the issue was never truly addressed with sober deliberation, but was instead left to an unbridled mixture of triumphant self-satisfaction on one side, and the fumbling search for an embellished image on the other.

Military heritage without war: peace-loving neutrality and the heritagisation of the Swedish "people's defence" of the twenties century

Author: Mattias Frihammar (Ethnology)  email

Short Abstract

The Swedish national identity nurtures ideas of neutrality and peace. At the same time the 1900s’ meant a militarization of the Swedish landscape. The paper discusses how a neutral and peaceful Swedish self-image is negotiated at former military sites that have become museums the past ten years.

Long Abstract

An often repeated phrase is that Sweden has not been in war for 200 years and Swedish national identity has traditionally been built on neutrality and peace-building. Paradoxically, a large weapons industry as well as mandatory male conscription was deemed necessary during the twentieth century. The Swedish national rhetoric of peace and neutrality was thus paralleled with an extensive militarization of the landscape.

The Swedish discourse has changed recent years. Conscription was replaced with professional combat units designed for international missions, leaving a large number of military settings without use. After a government inquiry, the network SMHA (Swedish Military Heritage) was established in 2009, now involving twenty-eight post military sites now turned into government funded museums located all over the country.

In this paper I will discuss how a neutral, nonviolent and peace embracing Swedish national self-image is negotiated and expressed at former military sites (barracks, airports, bunkers, caverns), now part of this nationwide network of military museums. The paper problematizes how the sites are launched as "museums of experience" with children as a specific target group. How do the museums talk about war, violence and conflict in a national frame of peace, non-conflict and political harmony? What happens to the story of threat and cold war when adjusted to give children an educational and enjoyable experience? Which pasts are made visible, and for and by whom?

Refashioning the landscapes of the First World War in the Soča/Isonzo Valley, Slovenia

Author: Miha Kozorog (Scientific Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)  email

Short Abstract

This paper ethnographically examines various agents involved in heritagisation processes in the Soča/Isonzo Valley, Slovenia, and their engagements with the landscapes of the First World War, which bring to light both developmental and ethical issues.

Long Abstract

As Nicholas J. Saunders has shown, in certain parts of Europe landscapes of the First World War have been engaged by various agents in contested ways. In the Soča/Isonzo Valley (today western Slovenia), from May 1915 to October 1917 a front line, today known as Isonzo Front, and twelve battles between Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies took place. In Slovenia, these historical battlefields have been recognized as heritage in the 1990s, and the value of military landscapes of the First World War has nationally increased from then on. This paper will ethnographically examine different agents involved in this heritagisation process and their engagements with the landscapes. The paper will also focus on expert and popular discourses about developmental potentials and ethical aspects of military landscapes.

Commemorating Bohinj as the hinterlands of the Isonzo Front: the creation of a wartime memorial thematic route

Author: Tatiana Bajuk Sencar (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU))  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, the author analyzes the events and processes that comprised the creation of a WWI memorial thematic route in Bohinj as a commemorative social process.

Long Abstract

On September 3, 2015, a new thematic hiking route was formally inaugurated in Bohinj that connects sites significant to Bohinj's history during the First World War. Bohinj was located at the rear of the Isonzo front line and operated as a passage between the hinterlands and the front line. At the time of its inauguration, this new thematic route was also formally incorporated into the Walk of Peace memorial thematic route, which runs along the Isonzo front in the Upper Soča region from the Alps to the Adriatic. The Bohinj leg of the Walk of Peace marks the paths between the front lines and the hinterlands as they existed during the years of the First World War between the Bohinj and the Upper Soča regions.

In this paper, the author analyzes the events and processes that comprised the creation of the memorial route in Bohinj as a commemorative social process and the ways in which the memorial route is linked to broader narratives of wartime social memory linked to different groups of local social actors. More specifically, the author examines the ways in which local actors view the potential and the dangers of commemorating local heritage, particularly the region's WWI heritage, as a resource for tourism both locally and regionally defined.

War and peace in founding myths of EU Europe

Author: Tuuli Lähdesmäki (University of Jyväskylä)  email

Short Abstract

The paper explores how the EU heritage/history initiatives narrate the story of the origins of EU Europe by emphasizing both historical continuity in Europe and a break with the past manifested particularly in the destruction of WWII.

Long Abstract

Along with the EU’s increased interest in a common European memory, narration as a means to create, mediate, and communicate about it has gained new momentum. By applying the Discourse-Mythological Approach, I explored how the EU narrates the story of the origins of EU Europe—i.e. Europe as a polity that has both political and non-political bases—in its two recent heritage/history initiatives. The analysis focuses on the key heritage initiative of the European Commission—the European Heritage Label—and the European Parliament’s visitor centre called Parlamentarium. The data consist of policy documents, informational and promotional material of these initiatives, and images and texts from the permanent exhibition of the ‘History area’ in Parlamentarium. The analysis brought out three storylines in the mythmaking of EU Europe. The first founding myth emphasizes the idea of a common cultural origin of Europeans and EU Europe’s historical continuity from the past. Besides this founding myth emphasizing historical continuity and shared values, the data also include storylines that stem from the idea of a break with the past. In this second founding myth, EU Europe rises like a phoenix from the ashes of the total destruction of WWII. Totalitarianisms, the death of millions of people, and ruined cities in Europe are narrated in this founding myth as a turning point in history and as the root cause and initial impetus to the development of the EU. Although the starting point of this myth is negative with its emphasis on extreme agony, violence, hatred, oppression, and injustice, the myth turns the legacy of this turning point into a positive ethos of conquering these negative extremes and promoting their positive opposites: freedom, justice, solidarity, and peace. The third storyline highlighting founding figures and key heroes functions as a mediator between these two mythical narratives.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.