Flexible Scales and Relational Territoriality in the Meaning-Making of Cultural Heritage

Notions of HeritageHeritage Changes Itself (Geographical and Linguistic Processes of Transformation)Urban HeritageArchitecture and Urbanism
Regular session
lundi 06 juin 09:00 AM (6 heures)
Notions of heritageHeritage changes itselfHeritage and geographyLinguistic transformation of heritage
Space plays a crucial role in the production and meaning-making of cultural heritage. Although space has often been discussed in heritage studies, further critical analysis of the constructive and performative nature of space, in particular that of scale and territoriality, is needed in order to understand the power hierarchies and mechanisms of power in cultural heritage and in various conflicts related to its meanings, ownership, preservation and management.
The idea of cultural heritage is commonly fixed to territories: heritage is often perceived and narrated as reflecting not only locally, regionally and nationally framed territorial meanings, but also those of supranational territorial entities such as cross-border or transnational regions and continents. The territorial meanings of cultural heritage are, however, situational and fluid: the territorial meanings of sites, objects and traditions recognized and labelled as cultural heritage vary in different discourses and contexts. For example, the same site, object or tradition can be defined as representing cultural heritage of different nations, depending on one’s point of view. Similarly, the same cultural heritage can be regarded as local, regional, national or supranational in different heritage discourses. Territorial definitions of cultural heritage are often intertwined with political agendas. Indeed, spatiality, scale and territoriality have a crucial role in producing, interpreting and governing cultural heritage. Usually, heritage administration, heritage politics and policies have a territorial focus and operational context. Although the geographies of heritage have raised increasing scholarly interest in the field of heritage studies, the difference that scale creates to the meanings of heritage has nevertheless been rarely investigated, as David Harvey has argued.
This session aims to promote the objectives of ACHS, an interdisciplinary approach and critical exploration of power relations involved in the production and meaning-making of cultural heritage. It addresses the main topic of the ACHS 2016 conference by discussing cultural heritage as a domain of power and politics—such as identity politics—and explores how imagined or real spaces, scales, territories and territorial borders are constructed, defined and managed in the processes of heritagization, and with what effects. The session tackles the following questions:
• How do space, scales and territoriality influence the meanings of cultural heritage?
• What kinds of power hierarchies, politics and conflicts of interpretation are implicated by the territorialisation of cultural heritage?
• What kinds of territorial top-down and bottom-up dimensions influence governing and meaning-making of cultural heritage?
The session will be divided in three parts:
Cultural Environment, Cultural and Natural Heritage, and Regionality;
Private and Public Spheres and Territoriality / De-Territoriality of Heritage;
Scales of Heritage and Identity Politics.
University of Jyväskylä
Adjunct Professor / Docent
University of Jyväskylä
Postdoctoral fellow

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