Workshop Heritage-Making

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“Alternative Heritage-Making for the Future: Asia’s Heritage Strategies Beyond the Mainstream”
Heidelberg University, 2 – 4 Feb 2024

Heritage-making is often discussed in terms of national politics and recognition, tourism, international
notions of intangible heritage, and assessments of success or failure in heritage-making projects (e.g.
Adell et. al. 2015, Bendix 2021, Debarbieux and Hertz 2020). Frequently, UNESCO approaches to
‘heritage’ are the dominant framing, also in critical heritage studies. However, recent scholarship has
identified alternative heritage-making strategies by groups from the margins, which stake claims
beyond the mainstream heritage industry and below the radar of national politics and dominant
discourse (e.g. Muzaini 2018). The ongoing research of the workshop conveners, for example,
investigates how heritage-making is adopted as a strategy by queer groups in Indonesia and Nepal to
legitimize their position in a national context.

This workshop calls for contributions on such alternative heritage-making strategies. Although we
welcome contributions from all disciplines, we prioritize those with a regional focus on Asia – especially
South and Southeast Asia and their diasporas and transcultural relations. The workshop aims to
connect researchers interested in heritage-making from the grassroots, from beyond the mainstream
discourse, or from the margins, be it with regard to gender, queer, diverse, religious, ethnic, artisanal,
professional, or other social and cultural aspects. The aim of the workshop is to establish a network of
researchers active in in the field in view of potential future project collaborations.

Possible questions of interest may be, amongst others: What are vernacular or subcultural
conceptualizations of ‘cultural heritage’? How do local groups, subcultures, or stakeholders relate to
cultural heritage beyond the dominant discourse? How is ‘alternative heritage’ constructed with
relation to notions of tradition, history, arts, craft, performance, ritual, literature, film, or other aspects
of vernacular social and cultural practices? How do specific communities – for instance queer groups,
ritual specialists, or local ethnic groups – refer to cultural traditions and heritage as part of their identity.
How are the groups that adopt such heritage-making strategies locally and transculturally connected?

Workshop date: Friday 2 to Sunday 4 February 2024
Venue: University of Heidelberg, Germany
Convenors: Research project ‘Queer Heritage-Making in Times of Political Turmoil: A Transcultural Approach’ (Flagship Initiative Transforming Cultural Heritage, University of Heidelberg): Dr. Marion Wetstein, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Dr. Wikke Jansen, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Prof. Dr. Ute Hüsken, South Asia Institute.

Bendix, Regina. 2022. Life Itself: An Essay on the Sensory and the (Potential) End of Heritage Making. Traditiones, 50(1): 43-51. htps://
Debarbieux, Bernard and Ellen Hertz. 2020. Heritage-making in search of scale: Introduction. L’Espace géographique (49)4, 2020: 289-302.
Adell, Nicolas, Regina F. Bendix, Chiara Bortoloto and Markus Tauschek (eds). 2015. Between Imagined Communities and Communities of Practice: Participation, Territory and the Making of Heritage. (Götingen Studies in Cultural Property, Volume 8). Götingen: Universitätsverlag Götingen.Muzaini, Hamzah. 2017. “Informal heritage-making at the Sarawak Cultural Village, East Malaysia”. Tourism Geographies 19(2): 244-264. DOI:10.1080/14616688.2016.1160951.


  • Marion Wettstein and Wikke Jansen (Heidelberg University): “Queer Heritage-Making in Times of Political Turmoil: Perspectives from South(east) Asia
  • Nadja-Christina Schneider (Humboldt University of Berlin): Remembering Delhi’s Modern Architectural Heritage: The Hall of Nations (1972 – 2017)”
  • Meike Karolus (Universitas Pembangunan Nasional Veteran Yogyakarta): “Decolonization and Redefinition  of “Queer Identities”: Relationships and Academic Activism in Indonesia”
  • Ferdiyansyah Thajib (Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) & Rully Mallay (Kebaya Foundation, Indonesia): “Living Legacy: An Oral History of Waria’s Self-Organizing in Yogyakarta”
  • Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan (Independent Researcher and Artist): “Akkachishasthram: Imagined Queer Heritages of Kerala”
  • Bindu Bhadana (Independent Researcher): “Queer Heritage-Making Strategies: Some Examples from India”
  • Kaustav Padmapati (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies): “Performing Arts, Social Media, and Other Gender: Case Study of Raas Leela (Lora Rakh) Festival of Assam as Potential Folkloric Artifacts and Queer Space”
  • Roshni Sengupta (University of Petroleum and Energy Studies): “Heritage-making among the Dutch-Hindustani Diaspora in the Netherlands: Documenting Baithak Gaana and Launda Naach Performances in Europe”
  • Elisabeth Schömbucher (University of Würzburg): “’We have been there since Ancient Times.’ Identity Assertion through Heritage-Making among Trans/Third Gender Communities in India.
  • Kumud Rana (Lancaster University): “Decoloniality, Indigeneity and Queer Heritage-Making Practices in Nepal”
  • Alevtina Solovyeva & Alina Oprelianska (University of Tartu): “Manifestations of Gender(less) Sexuality in Spi(Ritual) and Secular Practices and Customary Law in Mongolia: Historical Contexts and Contemporary Perspectives”
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