Critical Heritage Practice: Preferred Futures, Uncertain Presents and Speculative Pasts

Lisa Onaga's picture
Type: 
Lecture
Date: 
September 7, 2021
Location: 
Germany
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Historic Preservation, History Education, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Indigenous Studies

Critical Heritage Practice: Preferred Futures, Uncertain Presents and Speculative Pasts
A public lecture by Dean Sully (University College London)

7 Sept. 2021, 14:00 to 15:30 CET (please register for Zoom link)

This presentation will provide a practice-based account of heritage conservation as a set of research methods that contribute to broader debates about the past and concerns about our futures. It will explore the principles of the conservation discipline within a framing of colonialism and the need for additional methodological tools that go beyond the technical ability of heritage to merely present something of the past to be experienced in the present.

In addition to the opportunities provided by conservation’s forensic encounter with the vestigial remains of the past, this will consider the implications of prioritizing either materials, values, or people in heritage conservation policy and practice. Decolonizing, transculturalism, and post-humanism will be presented as tools to challenge the Authorized Heritage Discourse. The potential of critical speculative methods will be presented as ways to highlight the (un)certainty of authorizing knowledge production in providing stories of the past and the future.

The implications of conserving heritage in the environmental humanities of the Anthropocene will be examined as a response to the projected rupture of time ahead of us, rather than behind us in the past. This will plot a shift in the focus of heritage practice in its salvage paradigm, replacing a response to the absence created in the progress towards a new optimistic future, with action to salvage sufficient resources to sustain human populations in their anticipated future broken worlds. This enables heritage practice to provide new ways to propose implausible but real nows, and realizable preferable futures.

Two heritage projects will be discussed as examples of the application of decolonizing, transcultural, critical heritage, and post-humanist practice in the conservation of heritage places and objects. The case studies will form the focus of two subsequent workshops:

Workshop 1 (Decolonizing One Discipline at a Time, Starting with Heritage Conservation): decolonizing and transcultural methods will be highlighted in a heritage conservation project: Hinemihi, the wharenui at Clandon Park, UK/Te Wairoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Workshop 2 (Role of Creative Practice in Heritage Process: Speculative Pasts from Certain Futures. Past, Present and Future, Which Comes First?): critical heritage and post-humanist methods will be discussed in relation to a critical speculative design project: "Objects of the Misanthropocene, Insouciant Artefacts from the Museums of Beyond."

This lecture is part of the 2021 Methods Intensive Master Class at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and open to all. Please click here to register for the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMqc-ygrjopGtDsYtPawu56fuQ7UHkw38Pf

Space is limited for Workshops 1 & 2. If you are interested in admission to the workshop, please fill out and email this form to event_dept3@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de by August 26, 2021. Successful registrants will receive a link to relevant readings. Thank you.

Contact Info: 

Lisa Onaga
Senior Research Scholar
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science