Workshop Call

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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?

Send an abstract of roughly 500 words for the presentation of your recent, current, or envisaged
research in relation to the call to by October 31, 2023. For
strong applicants without financial support from their home institute, we can fund accommodation and travel. Exactly your topic, but the date doesn’t work out for you? Write to us anyway!

Abstract deadline: 31. October 2023
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.

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