Regimes of Culture and Historical Preservation

Course Description: 

The course offers an introduction to contemporary politics and policies of memory, preservation, and “heritage”. Our approach is resolutely interdisciplinary, combining readings in social theory, sociology, anthropology, history, and policy studies. The purpose is to clarify as systematically as possible the collective dynamics (interactions, controversies, conflicts, symbolic and physical violence) that make memory/heritage/culture salient notions and realities in globalized, modern and contemporary societies. Readings, lectures, and conventional discussion sessions will be supplemented with several guest lectures by authors and practitioners in the field of memory, heritage, and historic preservation.

Learning Outcomes: 

—Substantive skills:

*literacy in basic concepts and debates in memory and heritage studies, incl. the definitions and issues associated with: collective memory/constructivism; narrative; materiality/new material-ism; ambivalence/forgetting; trauma; vicarious memory; postmemory; structural vs. relational; structural vs. historical; nostalgia; authenticity; ideology; commodification/enclosure.

*knowledge of the functions and impact of key policy organizations and institutions in charge of heritage and culture at both national and international level, as well as the basic ways in which they interplay and form a (global) heritage system; definition and use of “scale” 

*basic historical knowledge of the global development of the field of memory/heritage since the early modern era, as a product of nation-building, imperialism/colonialism, capitalist markets, and science-formation.

*historical knowledge of the development of memory/heritage studies and of its problematics since the 1980s.

—Portable skills:

*ability to analyze heritage and “memory” critically, i.e. as the products of contingent, contested, often latent, always power-driven processes, which it is a matter to analyze and explain. *ability to formulate research questions, working hypotheses, and elaborate empirical tests.

*critical awareness of Eurocentric and intellectualistic biases inherent in heritage and heritage studies.

*interdisciplinary approach to real-world cases, issues and debates, combining 1) a solid sense of which disciplines produce what kind of research and tools and 2) openness to and skill combin-ing the latter through research and writing (i.e. interdisciplinarity anchored in distinct, discipline-based, and outcome-specific corpuses and repertoires)

*ability to construct a dialogical and critical argument and write an essay, especially as a work of “public anthropology” or sociology (academic writing for online outlets);

*Other academic skills: bibliographic research; autonomous but informed thinking. For PhD stu-dents: initiation to the writing of a bibliographic essay or review essay (requirement for ABD status)


Assignments for MA students (in person class):

1.Attendance and participation in all meetings of the class when class meets in person; through online fora, online meetings, and/or weekly assignments for students taking the on-line version. One unjustified absence or miss won’t be penalized - 30%

2.One presentation on (all) the readings of any given week  - 20%

3.One academic essay for online publication on a topic of your choice, if possible with con-temporary currency. Think of it as an academic blog post. The best posts will be edited and uploaded on the class website. Length: max. 2500 words (no exceptions) + relevant bibliog-raphy of sources incl. at least 3 references from the class, any number of your own refer-ences, as well as relevant hyperlinks to online sources. Draft abstract and working title due Week 5. Presentation of advanced drafts due week 12. - 50%