Local Vocabularies of “Heritage”
Variabilities, Negotiations, Transformations
8-10th February 2012
University of Évora – Portugal
Cidehus-University of Évora-FCT
and Network of Researchers on Heritagisations
Call for paper
Dead-line 1st of June 2011
Concern for “heritage”, in its French version of “patrimoine” or the Anglo-Saxon one of “heritage”, is often associated with Western cultural history’s originality and the spreading of the values related to it with a universalist and globalizing vocation. But the objects (artifacts, monuments, sites, animals, plant species and social practices) and the uses (memory and identity processes, transmission dynamics, links with the past and with history) today covered by the sphere of the Western “cultural heritage” are sometimes already part of the cultural practices and collective representations of non-Western societies. This plurality of “heritage” conceptions makes it possible to go beyond the rhetorical motif of the “great division” and to better redefine what makes world cultures different and what connects them. Moreover, though all societies do not attribute the same meaning or the same values to their heritage terminology, they are nonetheless part of a recent semantic and conceptual translation process of the international norms propagated by “heritage” institutions.
The difficulty in analyzing the layers and the differentiations of “heritage” vocabularies stems from the fact that international bodies have gradually included in the “heritage” field very different objects (architecture, town planning, art, landscape, environment, languages or practices and social representations) and have thus encouraged the actors to interpret certain local terminologies in terms of “heritage”, even though “tradition”, “culture”, “custom”, “memory” or “transmission” could have been considered autonomously. Moreover, the division of the “heritage” field into “cultural heritage”, “natural heritage” and “intangible heritage” contains in itself a classification of the real which is not directly transferred to social situations and which also obliges local actors to redefine their own categories of thought.
Besides, Western “heritage” terminology is perhaps only pertinent to the extent that the actors themselves assert their right to this vocabulary and use it. This relativistic position makes it possible to speculate on three aspects : firstly, on the terminologies applied to “heritage” type activities already at work locally in cultures outside international frameworks ; secondly, on the translations of the terms “heritage”, “safeguarding”, “preservation”, “restoration”, “valorization” etc. in conceptual negotiations which take place locally and, thirdly, on the differences existing between these two levels and on the incomprehension this disparity creates in the local implementation of programs using international categories.
Is it possible to draw up a comparative inventory of “heritage” notions present throughout human societies? What are the local notions that come into play in the contemporary “heritage” arena? What exactly do these notions cover in the autonomous regions of Europe or in those seeking independence and in the nations resulting from decolonization? How are the meanings and requalifications of vocabulary distributed in minority and fringe groups? To what extent can the heritage field be taken as a vantage point for a society’s historical evolution?
The central idea of this symposium is to carry out an international comparison of vocabulary variants and local linguistic uses of “heritage”, both in the context of contact with international institutions and in the limited one of indigenous and customary uses. The symposium therefore proposes to take seriously the emic definitions and redefinitions of “indigenous terms” and to draw up a critical inventory of them, by going beyond the fiction of a continuous and globalized homogeneous “heritage” field. A comparative analysis and the confrontation of related concepts in the different local vocabularies would also make it possible to get the measure of the transactions, mutations, misunderstandings and transfers that may arise from the global contact initiated in cultural exchanges over the last two centuries.
In this perspective, four main fields of reflection seem to emerge:
1. The variability of “heritage” vocabularies and the social effects of this in different cultural, historical and political contexts. How should we today consider the originality of Western systems of preservation, transmission and archiving and those of “other” cultures?
2. The conceptual negotiations at stake in the adjustments of local terms on a regional, national or international level. How are these negotiations part of the public space of terminological requalification of “heritage” vocabularies and practices, sometimes embodied in the form of “heritage” specialists or collective organizations?
3. The transformations the artifacts go through in the translation and exchange processes. What material changes do heritagized objects and representations have to undergo in order to correspond to local and/or international criteria?
4. The variability of scientific uses of the term “heritage” in academic traditions and the repercussions of this in experts’ practices and in interdisciplinary dialogue.
The symposium is open to all researchers working on the political, cultural, historical and social uses of “heritage”, in a perspective of exchange and interdisciplinary comparison, and able to provide a detailed account of a specific geographical area in order to contribute an element to the group reflection. Working languages will be English, French and Portuguese.
Proposition (250 words, contact details, scientific affiliation and biographical note of 50 words) should be submitted before the 1st of June 2011 to firstname.lastname@example.org. The results will be made public on the 1st of July 2011.
Crispin Paine, University College London, Great-Britain
Ismail Ali Ahmed El-Fihail, Ministery of Culture, United Arab Emirates
Salia Malé, National Museum, Mali
Julien Bondaz, Musée du Quai Branly, France
Sylvie Grenet, Ministery of Culture and Communication, France
Cyril Isnart, Cidehus-University of Évora, Portugal
Anais Leblon, University of Aix-Marseille I, France
Maria Cardeira da Silva, FCSH/ Lisbon New University, Portugal
Elsa Peralta, ISC-IL, Portugal
Regina Bendix, University of Gottingen, Germany
Pascale Maizi, Centre Nationale d’Etudes Agronomiques des Régions Chaudes, France
The price of 150 € includes 3 lunches, 3 dinners, 6 coffee breaks, the guided tour of the historical center of Evora (Unesco World Heritage), Wifi access and documentation. The registration will only be complete once we have received the full registration fee. Cancellation and reimbursement will be possible till 2 months before the congress.
1st of June: Dead-line for the proposal
1st of July: List of accepted papers – Call for registration
1st of November: Dead-line registration
15 of November: Final program
More information email@example.com or site of the congress