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13.30  Making Heritage Minoritarian: A Transnational Recipe for a Socially Useful Past

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9:00, Monday 6 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will ask what does heritage change when it is transnational, and also as it transnationalizes? Drawing on the my work on an EU-funded social platform designed to help point EU policy towards a more cohesive and inclusive cultural heritage, this paper will entangle itself in the theoretical conundrums surrounding cultural memory in the European space. Europe’s complicated history of military and colonial endeavours has generated a compendium of horrors, something that the heritage industry has—with a few notable exceptions—rarely managed to bring into a shared transnational public consciousness. One reason for this may be that heritage ethics have been only partially linked to broader critical theory that addresses issues of cosmopolitanism and other ways of reconstituting a shared public sphere (e.g. Habermas’ constitutional patriotism).      

In order to investigate this broader theoretical weakness (heritage studies remaining—as John Carman recently noted—overly focused on case-studies and the context-specific nature of individual examples), this paper will wrestle with one of a number of possibilities for reframing our understandings of heritage. In arguing for making heritage “minoritarian” it will emphasize the transnational aspects of heritage as key to mobilizing its transformative potential. Drawing on Rosi Braidotti’s idea of “becoming minoritarian” the paper will explore how Europe might reinvent itself and direct its heritage-making processes toward building genuinely inclusive representations of culture. Favouring these aspects may go beyond “inclusivity” to significantly transform the cultural memory of the European continent, possibly contributing to the cosmopolitan cultural memory that Europe so often espouses in its carefully worded (but as yet politically unachievable) public statements and toothless policies.

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