Citizens, Civil Society and the Cultural Politics of Heritage-Making in East and Southeast Asia
International conference organized by Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica (Taiwan), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore), and IIAS.
Conference dates: 11-13 December 2014
Professor Laurajane Smith, Australian National University
Professor Wan-Yao Chou, National Taiwan University
Professor Jeroen de Kloet, University of Amsterdam
Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
International Institute for Asian Studies, the Netherlands
Since David Lowenthal first noted the acute ascendancy of heritage as a discourse and, indeed, likened it to religion, the cult of heritage has spread beyond the Euro-American world to win adherents in the further reaches of Asia. This is in no small way due to the rise of the modern nation-state, and the formulation of heritage as a given, constitutive part of nations. However, what constitutes heritage is never a given, and it is commonly “made” through a process embedded in an evolving cultural politics involving actors such as the state, local communities and civil society organizations, and international institutions or activists. While these actors are not always distinct, a series of three conferences have been planned to highlight the role of each in turn without neglecting their inter-relationships. The first conference took place in Singapore in January 2014, focusing on the role of the state. The second conference in the series, to be held in Taiwan in December 2014, focuses on the role of citizens, local communities and civil society organizations in heritage-making. The third conference will take place in the Netherlands in 2015, and will focus on international organizations and activists.
In considering the role of local communities and civil society organizations in heritage-making, the second conference will dwell on the figure of the citizen, broadly understood. What are the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of a citizen, and how does this relate to the modern nation-state and the notion of heritage, particularly in the contemporary environment where the role of the state and that of citizens are being reconfigured to serve a neo-liberal agenda? How does citizens’ involvement in heritage-making contribute to the civility of a shared societal life, and indeed, in some countries, to the sense of nationhood and civilization? In other words, what are the dynamics involved when local communities, as citizens, not just in the narrow legal-constitutional sense (with the propensity this restrained status has to turn citizens into citizen- consumers), but more broadly speaking in the socio-political sense, engage in the definition of their heritage-scape through a common civil space where multiple interests and agendas vie for resources and meanings? In raising these questions, the conference explores how processes of heritage-making, as part of the everyday cultural practices through which cultural citizenship is asserted and discursively constituted, challenges the dominance of the state in defining its citizens.
At the same time, the word “citizen” is also a historical referent for “city inhabitants”. Indeed, much of the dynamics of citizenship is embedded in the social effervescence that cities evoke. Cities, where traces of the past, present and future are enfolded in the built environment, become spaces where the memories and aspirations of large populations of inhabitants are constantly negotiated. Without losing sight of the larger contexts in which cities are organically embedded, this conference has a special – but not exclusive – interest in the role of cities and their inhabitants as well as concerned civil society organizations in heritage-making. As cities evolve at a breakneck speed in the twenty-first century, where new iconic buildings continue to rise on the ruins of the past, how do cities maintain their historical character and socio-cultural fabric, or does it matter at all? What is the impact of such changes on city inhabitants, and how do they organize themselves to retain the meaning of shared spaces through the idiom of heritage? Finally, given the connectivity of cities and their influence on the global stage, what are the strategies that cities and their local communities employ to inscribe their heritage-scape, not only as part of national heritage, but also as part of world heritage?
With these issues in mind, we invite papers looking into the following themes:
- Representing the local in global cities
- Memories and aspirations in global cities
- Built heritage, ruins, and their social lives
- Contending with gentrification
- The social landscape as heritage
- Conflicts and resolutions of heritage-making
- Cultural activism and vernacular heritage
- Local identities and linguistic heritage
- Citizens, civil society and national as well as local heritage-making
- Local communities and the heritage-scape
- Civil society involvement in heritage-management
- Prospects of social innovation in heritage-management
It is suggested that papers should cover cities, townships and their associated rural landscapes in East and Southeast Asia.
Paper proposals should include a title, name of author, institutional affiliation, email address, an abstract (300 words) and a brief personal biography (150 words). The proposal should be submitted in word document format by June 1 2014 to Ms. Kathleen Mariska Azali (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Successful applicants will be notified by July 15 2014 and will be required to send in a completed draft paper (6000 - 8000 words) by November 15 2014.
Accommodations and a modest travel grant will be provided for all accepted participants.
- Professor Michael Hsiao, Distinguished Research Fellow and Director, Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
- Dr Hui Yew-Foong, Senior Fellow, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
- Dr Philippe Peycam, Director, International Institute for Asian Studies, The Netherlands
Local organizing institutions
- Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University
- Center for Traditional Arts and Graduate Institute of Architecture and Cultural Heritage, Taipei National University of the Arts
- Department of Cultural and Creative Industries Management, National Taipei University of Education
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