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Workshop: Understanding Heritage: Challenges and Perspectives for the 21st Century 14-16 June 2011, Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus (Germany)

PhD Workshop Announcement

Understanding Heritage: Challenges and Perspectives for the 21st Century

14-16 June 2011, Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus (Germany)

The International Graduate School of Heritage Studies at BTU Cottbus calls for participation in the abovementioned PhD workshop aimed at mapping challenges and perspectives on understanding heritage as they are framed in scientific research. The programme will be divided into three thematic sessions focusing on: (1) Heritage, Identity and Conflict; (2) Communities and Heritage Protection; and (3) Mediating Heritage through Representations. We hope to establish an academic network of young researchers and professionals, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds, with the purpose of generating a knowledge base of concepts and approaches which cut across the thematic areas of the workshop:

Thematic Sessions

(1) Heritage, Identity and Conflict

Heritage is not only about material objects, such as monuments and artefacts, but also about cultural practices, in all their manifestations, which play a key role in the construction of identities in contemporary societies. Learning about heritage may enrich our awareness of cultural roots, and at the same time, it also helps us understand and appreciate differences of other cultures. However, heritage may also become a cause or a scene of conflict, not only limited to armed conflict but also relating to the contestation of meaning and interpretation of tangible and intangible heritage. This is an increasing challenge in the 21st century, particularly in the context of cosmopolitan and multicultural societies, where perceptions of history, cultural goods and traditional arts are heavily laden with social and political implications. How is it, exactly, that heritage shapes identities? How can heritage help open the doors for intercultural dialogue? And how can one resolve identity-related conflicts where heritage is at stake? These are the questions to be addressed in the framework of this panel.

(2) Communities and Heritage Protection

The protection of cultural and natural heritage greatly depends on the involvement of various community stakeholders. Local communities have the primary role in maintaining and transmitting heritage but they are not the only actors with an interest in its protection. Sometimes the demands of the various actors involved – local communities but also external actors such as tourists, NGOs, governmental institutions, urban developers, etc – are driven by different understandings of the role of heritage and the need for its protection. Consequently this panel assesses the following questions: what are the perceptions of external actors, vis-à-vis internal actors, with regard to their function in the protection of heritage? If these perceptions are contradictory, should they be reconciled into a common understanding of heritage protection? What are the challenges of involving these communities into the long term protection of heritage?

(3) Mediating Heritage through Representations

In this session heritage will be approached as representation. The aim is to explore heritage mediation strategies, by focusing on the function of representations in shaping the understanding of heritage. When heritage becomes a representation it passes through a process by which it is disembodied from its originating context, transferred to a new one, and re-embodied as representation. Whether in the form of museum exhibitions or as digital images, representations may only capture selected aspects of heritage, at the expense of others. Thus, they provide partial understandings of the heritage they depict, conveying the particular view of their creators. In order to analyze this process and how it changes the understanding of heritage the session will centre on the following questions: By which means does the representation of heritage occur and how do these means influence the process of representation?  How do heritage representations differ from the heritage they represent? If heritage becomes a representation can it still be considered heritage and by whom?

Target Participants:

The workshop is open to PhD students and junior researchers from all over the world, who would like to share their ideas and engage in critical discussions within the thematic areas of the workshop.


Day 1 (June 14, 2011):

10.00 – 11.00      Reception

11.00 – 12.00      Opening:

Keynote speaker: Prof. Dr. Marie-Theres Albert, Director of IGS Heritage                            Studies

12.00 – 14.00      Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.30      Thematic Session 1:

Heritage, Identity and Conflict

15.30 – 15.45      Coffee Break

15.45 – 17.00      Thematic Session 1 (continued)

19.00 –               Cultural event/ BTU celebration (optional)

Day 2 (June 15, 2011):

09.30 – 11.00      Thematic Session 2:

Communities and Heritage Protection

11.00 – 11.15      Coffee Break

11.15 – 12.30      Thematic Session 2 (continued)

12.30 – 14.00      Lunch Break

14.00 – 15.30      Thematic Session 3:

Mediating Heritage through Representations

15.30 – 15.45      Coffee Break

15.45 – 17.00      Thematic Session 3 (continued)

Day 3 (June 16, 2011):

09.30 – 12.00      Plenary Session and Conclusions

18.00 –               Common dinner/drinks (optional)


Participation is based on submission of abstracts (max. 300 words) outlining your research-in-progress, as well as the relevance of your research to the thematic areas of the workshop. A limited number of papers will be selected for short presentations. Nevertheless, all participants will be able to contribute ideas, opinions, research results or queries by engaging in roundtable discussions.

If you are interested in participating, please, fill out the registration form, including the abstract, and send it to IGS.Heritage[at]web.de by April 15, 2011.

The International Graduate School: Heritage Studies is looking forward to your participation!

Download Workshop Announcement in PDF

Also happening as part of BTU Cottbus 20th Anniversary events: The workshop will be followed by the WHS Alumni Conference entitled “World Heritage and Sustainable Development“, initiated by the International Association of World Heritage Professionals e.V. (IAWHP e.v.). The conference will take place on June 16-19th 2011. You may contact the organisers at whs.conference2011[at]tu-cottbus.de or info[at]iawhp.com.

Our Team

The PhD workshop “Understanding Heritage: Challenges and Perspectives for the 21st Century” is organised by international students of the International Graduate School (IGS) of Heritage Studies, at Cottbus University. This is an interdisciplinary PhD programme covering 5 different focus areas:

1. Tangible Heritage in the Context of Global Change

2. Intangible Heritage/Religion/Identity/Diversity

3. Sustainable Protection and Use of Heritage in the Context of Innovative Conceptions of Heritage

4. Cultural Landscapes

5. Mediation of Heritage through Innovative Technologies

Our current team of PhD candidates is made up of:

Dariya AFANASYAVA (Ukraine)

Tiziana DESTINO (Italy)

Shina ERLEWEIN (Germany)

Bénédicte GAILLARD (France)

Maya ISHIZAWA Escudero (Peru)

LIU Chang (China)

Veronica MONTERO FAYAD (Colombia)

Frank MÜLLER (Germany)

Steven Yieke OJOO (Kenya)

Anca Claudia PRODAN (Romania)

WONG Chee Meng (Singapore)

Please see our profiles and research areas here (updating)

We come from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds and we look forward to a wonderful exchange of knowledge with you at our workshop!

About Cottbus

Cottbus, a cosy university town located between Berlin and Dresden, has an interesting history shaped by the Germans as well as the Sorbian minority. Among its tourist attractions are the Branitzer Park, a famous 19th-century landscape garden with a palace which now houses the Fürst-Pückler-Museum, and a beautiful theatre built in art nouveau style, the Staatstheater Cottbus, not to mention the one and only Wendish Museum among other attractions. BTU Cottbus, a campus not far from the town square marked by beautiful baroque houses, also boasts stunning architecture by Herzog & de Meuron for its Communications and Media Centre or IKMZ building as the latest landmark in town.

For your convenience we have compiled a list of accommodation available in town. Please feel free to write us IGS.Heritage[at]web.de for any further assistance. Thank you very much.