The Global Politics of Heritage
Why does heritage matter? In an increasingly globalized and technological world, cultural heritage has become an important tool for mobilization and struggle for recognition. At the same time, it is enmeshed in global economic and political industries and structures. In this course, you learn how to analyse contemporary processes of heritage formation around the world, debating its social and political possibilities and consequences from such diverse perspectives as climate change, tourism, transitional justice, and identity politics.
The Galapagos Islands, Belgian beer culture, Cambodia’s killing fields, nuclear waste, and vintage cars. An extraordinarily diverse array of places, practices, and objects fall under the rubric ‘heritage’ today. But what makes heritage heritage, and why does it matter so much in the contemporary world?
In this course, you learn how to analyse historical and contemporary processes of heritage formation around the world, debating its social and political consequences from several perspectives. You will also investigate how heritage can be used for exclusion and domination, social justice and reconciliation, and imagining alternative and sustainable futures, and how heritage catalyses the global circulation and connection of people, money, objects, and ideas.
The course is structured around four thematic blocks:
- The rise of heritage, where you get a historical overview of heritage as both a social phenomenon and as a discipline.
- Forms and materiality, where you explore in what terms heritage appears associated with objects, landscapes, infrastructures, and intangible culture.
- Scholarly approaches, where you learn how to expose different theoretical and conceptual approaches to heritage, for instance in terms of political economy, postcolonialism, posthumanism, etc.
- Heritage struggles, where you will debate political struggles and conflicts associated with heritage, for instance regarding transitional justice and the memorialization of violence, multiculturalism, or anti-heritage movements.