Constructions of Identity in “Post”-Industrial Societies
6.-7. October 2017, TU Berlin
The Forum takes place as part of the Annual Meeting & Conference (5.-7.10.2017) of the Arbeitskreis für Theorie und Lehre der Denkmalpflege e.V. in cooperation with the DFG Research Training Group 2227 “Identity and Heritage”. For further information please see http://www.hsozkult.de/event/id/termine-33691
In his essay on the Völklinger Hütte (1997), UNESCO world heritage site since 1994, Lucius Burckhardt generally questioned the assertion of a post-industrial age. The description of the defunct ironworks in Germany’s Saarland as a “monument of the industrial age” would suggest a conclusion to an era, or at least al-lege a temporal distance to former sites of economic and ecological exploitation and the destruction caused by them.
However, the industrial production sites have not vanished – in fact they have been externalised to other global locations. According to Ulrich Beck the present is distinguished by a systematic increase of risks, which is boosted by high technology industries. In consideration of this, it seems necessary, to critically interrogate the processes of reinterpretation, negotiation, and valorisation of industrial landscapes as cultural heritage sites, which contribute to senses of identity.
Collective identities have been localized in anthropogenic landscapes and their material symbols ever since. The heathlands – the outcome of massive deforestation induced by the production of charcoal and sheep herding, became synonymous with the homeland of Scots; windmills, pumping the seawater out of the polders, advanced as the blissfully picturesque symbol of the Netherlands. Today it is the romanticized industrial landscape, which serves as a resource of identification. The “most beautiful coal mine industrial complex of the world”, the world heritage site Zeche Zollverein Essen represents the transition of the whole Ruhrgebiet. The former uranium mining area turned into a landscape park New Landscape Ronneburg in Thuringia/former East Germany, is being recognized as a new regional icon. The European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) even interprets industrial monuments as symbols of a “common European identity.”
The damage, according to Burckhardt, is being preserved, poeticized and aestheticized. Nevertheless, the assertions of identity are intensely selective: the valorisation and evaluation of certain qualities belong to the identity-building process along with masking, suppression, and marginalisation of the other qualities. Some elements, for instance, are made usable for touristification and eventisation, whereas inconvenient elements or elements that contradict the present aestheticizing processes, are being assigned to certain spaces, such as museums.
The act of this symbolic reappointment can therefore be understood as coping strategies. Those – so the argument – satisfy the need for continuity, originality and control of a society shaped by experiences of contingency and increasing complexity.
Meanwhile the up-coming heritage such as nuclear plants and other sites causing long-term effects on the environment challenge both spatial and temporal dimensions of contemporary monument and heritage debates and reach into the planetary condition. Already at documenta 13 the artist Amy Balkin had scrutinised conventional heritage politics by claiming the UNESCO World Heritage nomination for the Earth’s atmosphere.
Against this background we would like to discuss, amongst others, the following questions:
- What is recognized and valorised as industrial heritage, what is at the same time marginalized? What are the arguments for such recognition and valorisation and what is therefore revealed about the constructions of identities? Which actors claim to be the heirs and who is being excluded?
- How can the practices of dealing with industrial heritage and the landscapes being shaped by it be described? How the material/substantial, economical and societal practices of preservation and maintenance?
- How could an integration of the dark sides of industrial heritage (environmental pollution and damage, economic exploitation etc.) be enabled and conceptualized besides musealisation? How could industrial heritage not only act as landmarks of the past e.g. as engineering monuments but also as memorials reflecting present and future?
- How could the main players of monument and heritage conservation relate to a global community of heirs in a society determined by risks?
- What role could cultural heritage play in regard to raise global awareness? How could this be considered in dealing with industrial heritage in an on-going globalized industrial age? What are the potentials of reflecting on global injustice within concepts of industrial heritage landscapes?
We are seeking case studies and contributions from scholars, artists and practitioners who would like to scrutinize the presented questions and assumptions. We are looking forward to a vibrant and vivid discussion and therefore invite contributors from all disciplines and fields.
Please send your abstract with maximum 300 words for a 20 min presentation and a brief CV by June 19th 2017 to: cfp[at]identitaet-und-erbe.org, Simone Bogner.
Limited travel funds are available.
Please find this Call for Papers as PDF and further information about the Research Training Group here: http://www.identitaet-und-erbe.org/?p=971