Hardly any major political or social conflict ends with its official settlement. The outcomes of the two World Wars in the 20th century as well as many national, ethnic and or social clashes are accompanied by negotiations referring to material and immaterial cultural heritage after changes of territorial borders or social and political boundaries. Such processes and the activities of heritage actors can be observed on a global scale in the modern age. This session focuses on the creation of identity politics in past and present post-conflict contexts in various geographical regions with the intention to address the global dimension of “uncomfortable heritage”.
Uncomfortable heritage as the session’s first core concept refers to material and immaterial relics after territorial border changes, and political or social system changes. Such relics often appear to be unwanted leftovers and spur social actions, as for instance destruction, ignorance, or reinterpretations in order to fit to new social or political narratives.
Cultural appropriation as the second core concept is understood here as being closely connected to strategies that strive to include “alien” features of cultural heritage into new narratives. Such actions and discourses are often connected to forms of discrimination, but they may also show aspects of agency that can contribute to political stabilisation. This observation supposes to draw attention to the various motivations and the cultural capital of societal actors involved in corresponding de-bordering strategies that may concern material or immaterial heritage, references to past borders in public space, social practices, or collective narratives.
The panel draws upon the discussion of cases from Estonia, Germany, Poland, and Senegal, Spain.