Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher
Histories of heritage usually perceive their object of study as a product of western modernity, and exclude the socialist world. Yet understood as a cultural practice and an instrument of cultural power, and as a “right and a resource”, heritage has played important roles in managing the past and present in many societies and systems.
In the postwar period, preservation became a key element of culture in socialist states from China, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern Bloc to Asia, Latin America and Africa. Attention paid to peoples’ traditions and heritage in such states became a way to manifest the superiority and historical necessity of socialist development. The conference will explore the rise of interest in heritage within socialist societies as a reaction to various phenomena, such as: rapid socialist industrial development the destruction of both the Second World War and wars of national liberation; and the necessity to (re)-invent national traditions.
This conference will also examine the role that these countries, and their experts, played in the development of international heritage protection policies in the second half of the twentieth century. On one hand, we can discern the implicit and explicit convergence of Eastern and Western dynamics of heritage discourses and practices over the second half of the twentieth century. Heritage professionals from socialist states played a large role in the formation of the transnational and transcultural heritage expertise. However, on the other hand, heritage still played a role in Cold War competition: socialist states claimed that their respect for progressive traditions and material culture distinguished their superior methods of development from that of the capitalist world. Non-Aligned countries often attempted to blend aspects of socialist and capitalist logics of cultural heritage politics. Yet the contribution of socialist states and experts to the development of the idea of heritage both domestically and internationally is still to be fully explored.
Conference themes to be addressed in papers include (but are not limited to):
- The rise of interest in, and conceptualisation of, heritage under socialist and non-aligned states;
- the transnational and transcultural circulation of ideas about heritage both within an expanding world of socialist states and across Cold War ideological divides;
- the role of socialist experts in international debates over heritage;
- the role of individual actors as cultural brokers within the cultural heritage field;
- the role of international organisations, such as UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, UIA and others in providing a platform for professional communication and knowledge exchange involving the socialist world;
- the formation of heritage diplomacy across the Cold War divide;
- the role of national traditions, experience and transnational cooperation across the Cold War divide in the creation of concepts and practices of socialist heritage;
- the legacies of the work of of socialist states and experts in contemporary heritage practices.
Abstracts of 300-500 words, together with an accompanying short CV should be submitted to Natalie Taylor (N.H.Taylor@exeter.ac.uk) by June 20, 2017.
The selected participants will be notified by July 20, 2017.
Funding opportunities for travel and accommodation are available, but we ask that potential contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.
This event is organized by the University of Exeter in collaboration with Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe in Marburg.
It is kindly supported by Exeter University’s Leverhulme Trust-funded project “1989 after 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism in Global Perspective”.
Prof. James Mark and Dr. Nelly Bekus, University of Exeter, Leverhulme Trust-funded project “1989 after 1989: Rethinking the Fall of State Socialism in Global Perspective”; Dr. Eszter Gartner, Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, Marburg; Dr. Michael Falser, Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Heidelberg University.