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“For People Then and for People Now”: Approaches to Heritage and Shared Authority

Heritage Changes the Social OrderCitizenship
Heritage changes peopleActivist vs expertHeritage-makers
Regular session
9:00, Tuesday 7 Jun 2016 (6 hours)
In exploring the broader question “What does heritage change?” this session presents work that is extending heritage policies and practices beyond elite cultural narratives. Using diverse disciplinary perspectives and drawing from case studies around the world, the presenters explore contexts in which stakeholders’ perspectives and choices have been catalysts for change, democratized knowledge, or exposed gaps in contemporary heritage practices. The case studies reveal complex and often contested paradigms of value that different groups bring to public heritage and memory practices, and at the same time they point to new approaches, strategies and methodologies that have been tools for empowering a more inclusive, shared authority approach to heritage sites and collections. These studies humanize the concept of heritage to assert the agency of diverse stakeholders in creatively and intentionally negotiating the politics of the heritage industry and profession to reframe narratives, alter knowledge production and reconfigure social relations.  
The presentations trace the political and phenomenological concerns of diverse stakeholders in a wide range of contexts. For example, presenters explore repatriation claims between tribes and government-owned heritage sites in the US Midwest; contested narratives in the planned National Museum of Romanian Communism and the site of Jilava Penitentiary, a former Communist prison, near Bucharest; Native American art objects in a museum collection reinterpreted by Native artists and elders; the entanglements of nationalist politics and grassroots development of projects for cultural preservation in Kyrgyzstan; divergent and convergent meanings of a family-curated museum in Maine, and the findings of an analysis of stakeholder-defined value of cultural heritage at two contested sites in Indiana.  
The goal of the session is to highlight innovative strategies for a shared authority approach to cultural heritage. Such an approach acknowledges the agency of diverse stakeholders in navigating structures of power embedded in the mainstream heritage practices and values the counter narratives they produce both with and without the support of dominant institutions.
Indiana University (IUPUI)

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