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Heritage and resistance: irregularities, temporalities and cumulative impact

Journal article
Authors Feras Hammami
Evren Uzer
Published in International Journal of Heritage Studies
Volume 24
Issue 5
Pages 445-464
ISSN 1352-7258
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Design and Crafts
Department of Conservation
Pages 445-464
Language en
Keywords Resistance, heritage, dialogue, impact, irregularity, urbanisation
Subject categories Human Geography, Peace and conflict research, Architecture, Cultural Studies, Other Social Sciences


Urban social change and large-scale demolitions in the name of urban renewal often give rise to social conflicts. In this study, we investigate how resistances to this change emerge, coalesce and revolve, and how they use heritage to generate cumulative impact. The analyses of urban change and resistance in Gårda, a working-class neighbourhood of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed social conflicts to be instigated by their stigmatisation. Since the 1970s, Gårda has been called ‘out of place’ and marked for demolition. These demolitions were given legitimacy by the ‘housing quality standards’ that emerged in the 1930s as a means to reduce social inequalities. Over time these standards became an ‘intangible heritage’ employed in neoliberal urban policies. In response, five ‘Re-Gårda’ resistance strategies emerged to contest Gårda’s future. Resistance groups uncovered new values for Gårda, curating the vision with the slogan ‘have a coffee in Gårda’, and structuring the narrative ‘upgrade Gårda’. This challenged the dominant discourse ‘demolish’ or ‘conserve’ Gårda, and resulted in a government decision to protect Gårda as a ‘heritage site’. Investigating heritage and resistance in Gårda helped us reveal the potential of resistance in challenging the limits of authorised urban and heritage discourses, and in realising socially equal and just cities.

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