Workshop: Inclusion and diversity in the heritage field – developing participatory approaches for the future

10:15 by Helena Rydén

Monday 26 September Anders Högberg was involved in arranging a workshop in Kalmar. At a well visited event (c. 25 persons) with students from Archaeology and Heritage Studies and also Leila Papoli-Yazdi and Emily Hanscam from the Heritage Futures chair in the audience, aspects of ´Inclusion and diversity in the heritage field’ was discussed. Sarah May presented on ‘Heritage, negotiating change, negotiating power’ and Cornelius Holtorf presented on the theme ‘From diversity to variation: human identity reconsidered’.

The intellectual set-up for the workshop was this:

Top-down initiatives aimed at promoting social inclusion within the Scandinavian heritage field have created dominant narratives of community cohesion, by drawing upon notions of unity presented as pre-existing. Essentialistic ideas of ‘rooted’ cultures, linked to shared histories and places of origin, provide individuals and groups with a sense of continuity and belonging. Embedded with assumptions concerned with nostalgia and consensus, such concepts work to construct and divide society into assumed homogeneous collectives. Efforts over the last two decades to extend the span of how cultural heritage is typified to recognize diversity, have not in themselves challenged inbuilt power relations, traditional narratives or the processes by which heritage is defined and given meaning. Recent strategies of minority inclusion involve an increased emphasis on the recognition and valorization of alternatives ‘from below’. Central is the notion that official heritage institutions and practitioners should act less like experts with authenticating authority, and instead adopt roles of facilitators and enablers. In this workshop we investigate how we can further develop such approaches.

The workshop was initiated and organised by Kaja Hannedatter Sontum from The Future Past: Bridging Public Administration, Academia and Schools, a research and dissemination project within HEI: Heritage Experience Initiative at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, University of Oslo, Gustav Wollentz from The Nordic Centre of Heritage Learning and Creativity in Östersund, Sweden, and Anna S. Beck from the project The Timeline. Applied Archaeology in Køge Nord at Museum Southeast Denmark, together with Anders Högberg at the Department of Cultural Sciences and the UNESCO Chair of Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University. The event was hosted by The Centre for Applied Heritage, Linnaeus University.

Gustav Wollentz, Anders Högberg, Sarah May and Kaja Hannedatter Sontum.

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