Heriot Watt University

Montreal 2016


Association of Critical Heritage Studies
Third Biennial Conference
Montreal, Canada, 3-8 June 2016

Session Title:
Changing places, changing people? Critical heritage(s) of diaspora, migration and belonging.

Session Organizers:
Dr Susannah Eckersley (Newcastle University, England, UK), Professor Ullrich Kockel, Dr Katherine Lloyd, Professor Máiréad Nic Craith (all Heriot-Watt University, Scotland, UK)

Session Abstract:
Much is being made of the perceived breakdown of the nation state, which was historically configured as a "container" of heritage formations, adopting and perusing local traditions where possible but oppressing them where deemed unsuitable. Migration is seen as eroding the rigid boundaries of this configuration, potentially liberating identities and heritages in the process. This session addresses the relationship between critical heritage and redefinitions of self, other, community and place within the contemporary global reality of movement and flux. Diversity and hybridization are usually regarded positively, displacement, alienation, conflict and normative repression negatively; yet is that necessarily so? Heritage can be seen as a tool for discursively drawing boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, but who is doing the drawing, for what purpose, and what difference does that make? Challenging conventional heritage discourses projecting heritage as sited in place(s), and/or attached to specific groups and communities, we invite contributions exploring the various, sometimes conflicting "imagined communities" of heritage by raising critical issues, such as:

  • How do ideas of place and place attachment shape or limit the positions individuals and groups may adopt? What roles do auto-biography, memory and history play in shaping such ideas?
  • How are scales of identity, place and belonging exhibited or influenced differently by both heritage and politics? What transitional identities and redefinitions of self, community, other and place develop in relation to the heritage practices, mediated memories and "past-presencing" of migrants?
  • How do displaced people negotiate community and place in tension between the "here and now" and the "there and then" that shapes their heritage discourse as much as the elite discourse they are confronted with in everyday life?
  • How are contested heritage practices, discourses and associations of 'authenticity' negotiated between communities, and what role do official discourses and practices play in alleviating or aggravating these contestations?
  • As displacement is becoming a common experience, what significance do memorates of "roots and routes" have in various socio-historical or geo-political contexts for shaping journeys of return, (re)discovery, pilgrimage or 'closure' that figure in heritage tourism?
  • How compatible are notions of cultural citizenship based on parity of esteem with the coexistence of perhaps conflicting heritage discourses? Why is conceptualising conflict as heritage so difficult?
  • Given the continued reality of multi-facetted place attachment, how may migration and displacement be turned into opportunities for re-placing communities and heritages while avoiding the trap of a shallow essentialism, and sanitization of uncomfortable heritages?
  • What is needed to make critical heritage sustainable in a social, political and economic environment in radical flux (migration, climate change, financial crisis, political upheaval and conflict)? How do we decide which heritages should be sustained, who legitimizes these decisions, and to what extent are such questions about merely replacing one elite with the power of definition by another?

We are keen to examine issues such as these from multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives combining theoretical explorations with applied concerns. Along with papers we encourage creative engagement using other formats with a capacity to capture our subject matter, such as artwork, poetry or performance.

Submissions for papers or posters should be sent with a brief resume (biographical notice and main publications or achievements) of no more than 300 words and an abstract of no more than 600 words presenting the topic or main argument, its relation to the specific session and its interest in the field of critical heritage studies. Paper abstracts should also demonstrate scientific quality through references to a theoretical framework, a methodology or by outlining the contribution to knowledge. It is expected that poster submissions also outline their contribution and state how the poster format will allow a better understanding of the subject treated.

The call for papers is now closed. More information is available on the conference website.

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