Nation-Building, Ethnicity, and Cultural Heritage

Course Description: 

This course aims to show the constructivist character, the diverse uses of the idea of the nation, and the role of cultural heritage in this construction. It will start from the 18th and 19th centuries as a key moment: If the notion of heritage goes back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it is with the Enlightenment that the required protection of cultural goods and the notion of cultural heritage concretely emerged. And it is in the 19th century that institutions and laws were established to organize and rationalize its preservation and protection, in the frame of the professionalization and the institutionalization of the main disciplines concerned (history, history of art, anthropology, ethnography, archeology).  But heritage is a product of selection by a society that responds to concrete expectations and strategies. The course will try to identify and to understand the tensions between nation-building and cultural heritage, considering the differences between regions and transformations in various periods.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will
• have a critical understanding of the notion of cultural heritage as the result of choices made by a given society;
• get a better understanding of the constructivist character of the nation;
• learn to use the comparative approach to highlight similar and generalizable mechanisms/processes;
• have demonstrated that they can apply this knowledge independently by analyzing an example of their choice (possibly from their country of origin) in a paper.


Participation: 10%
Oral presentation in class: 40 %
Midterm paper: 25 %
Critical review of a book at the end of the term: 25%