Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Contemporary research in archaeology, history and anthropology has the tendency to foreground processes of identity formation and nation building in explorations into the politics of the past. As a result of key publications (Anderson 1983, Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983, Smith 2004) linking the genealogy of heritage preservation to modern statecraft in Europe, today, nationalism operates as an important point of departure for many scholarly analyses in Europe and beyond. Although it is true that the state and nation-building are important forces, also a range of other players and agenda’s influence how certain histories and narratives are crafted or made tangible on the ground.
This roundtable will explore how we can insert theories and contemporary understandings of neoliberalism into the broader discussions about cultural heritage preservation. We do not approach neoliberalism from the unequivocal doctrine-structured universalist vocabulary of the Washington consensus, which stresses the universal linkages between the free-market, less government and free civil society. Instead, we conceive neoliberalism more broadly, as a variegated assemblage characterized by a larger role of corporate players and interests in everyday politics, governmental policies that are inherently influenced by economic rationales, and changed mentalities on the ground textured by the logic of the market, influencing everyday understanding of the world. We are not only interested in exploring the nexus neoliberalism-heritage in the present, but we also look at early examples to better understand evolutions over time.
This roundtable is part of an ongoing workshop series organized by IIAS that has the ambition to expand our conceptual and methodological approach to heritage by bringing in new themes and theories. Prior conferences focused on statecraft, civil society, cultural diplomacy and multilateralism. Key in this workshop series, and in this roundtable, is the focus on case studies from Asia that are explored in a comparative approach in an effort to further globalize heritage studies.