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International Conference

"Heritage in Practice - Conflicting Concepts and Changing Power Relations"

18.-20. November 2015

The Competence Area IV hosted, in cooperation with the UoC Forum on Cultural Heritage in Africa and Asia, an international conference on critical approaches to Intangible Heritage. On November 20th, 2015, a group of internationally renowned scholars came together to discuss the impact of power relations in imperial formations, notions of ownership, exclusion, subalternity and voice, but also aspects of appropriation of epistemologies and concepts.

The conference thereby addressed various debates led in critical heritage studies, sociolinguistics and postcolonial studies on how the actual idea of Cultural Heritage, its inscription practices, discourses on sustainability and valorisation, as well as the marketing and tourism practices associated with it largely tend to negate the continuing power inequalities and colonial settings in which ”safeguarding“ itself takes place. Concepts of Intangible Heritage developed in the North have been critically examined in their potential to adapt marginalized societies and practices to neoliberalism, continuously commodifying people and their lives, constructing them as possessions of humankind, and linking places and practices through property regimes. At the same time, southern forms of heritaging and heritage concepts existing in the South were presented, showing the multiplicity of practices, the powerful impact of (often subversive) counter-discourses and the agency of local players.

Participants were Laura Jane Smith (ANU, Canberra), Nick Shepherd, Ana Deumert & Nkululeko Mabandla (all UCT, Cape Town), Friederike Lüpke (SOAS, London), Tilman Lenssen-Erz, Andrea Hollington & Chris Bongartz (UoC, Cologne), host was Anne Storch (UoC, Cologne).