During the twentieth-century, heritage preservation primarily focused on immobile objects. This is significant when we consider how much of our global economy, landscape, built environment, culture, and way of life has been affected by the automobile and associated infrastructure. Automobiles have been purposefully designed as much as any modern building. Therefore, we must engage the broader cultural phenomena of cars in order to answer the difficult questions pertaining to human needs and desires that are inseparably intertwined with time and place. Furthermore, cars have been interpreted and re-interpreted in complex ways that often go beyond the original intentions of their designers. Automobiles are a material cultural objects not only of broad and powerful social, economic and political impact, but also of great complexity, and as such they must be contextualized in cultural research if they are to be understood.
Studying automobiles within the field of heritage studies raises questions related to heritage management as since motor vehicles are deeply embedded in identity formation within many societies. Since UNESCO has declared heritage as a human right; therefore, by extension the automotive past requires consideration, evaluation, and stewardship. Automobile history is also all about the present and future, in addition to the past. Therefore, this aspect of heritage applies to cultural policy makers and practitioners as well as those engineering the future of transportation and the built environment. Comprehensive stewardship of the automotive past also entails recording, interpreting, and documenting the experience of using and being transported in a motor vehicle, as well as the trades skills and craftsmanship of automobile design, assembly, and maintenance; besides the physical conservation interventions of cars. Hence the creation of National Historic Vehicle Register (NHVR), which is a tool that can be used to carefully and accurately study and honor the most historically significant automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, and commercial vehicles, as well as recognize the dynamic relationship between people, culture, and their means of transportation. The NHVR was developed by the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Library of Congress in March 2013 to explore how vehicles important to American and automotive history could be effectively documented (https://historicvehicle.org/national-historic-vehicle-register/).
In a manner of speaking, the heritage studies of automobiles is a parallel if not conjoined field with studying the immovable built environment, and thus provides an opportunity to reflect and refract on the way tangible preservation is conducted, as well as relationships with intangible heritage traditions.
Conference presentations will be organized according to three thematic tracks, which are:
1. Preserving the Artifact
2. Interpretation and Documentation
3. Education, Media, and Sharing
Conference presentations will be organized according to three thematic tracks, which are Preserving the Artifact; Interpretation and Documentation; and Education, Media, and Sharing. Suggested presentation topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Case studies of best practices related to preservation, conservation, restoration, adaptive reuse, and reconstruction of automobiles and associated material culture.
- Innovative ways to add the preservation of automotive heritage to the educational curriculum within colleges/universities, high schools, and technology schools, especially using an interdisciplinary approach (Museum Studies, Public History, Preservation Practice, Ethnography, etc.).
- Case studies of regional and local automotive culture and heritage, including those viewed through the lens of ethnic/regional studies (American studies, Women’s studies, material culture studies, studies of nomadic peoples, etc.)
- Considering if there is a world automotive heritage, and whether UNESCO or ICOMOS should be encouraged to get involved, and the role of FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) as part of this.
- Reevaluating listed historic places and sites, as well as considering new places where buildings and landscapes (etc.) are tied with vehicles and people, in a more comprehensive designation that ties together the NHVR and NRHP, where both building/structure and car/vehicle elements are equally contributing.
- The role of motor sport as an element of international, national sport and regional sport and its history.
- The impact and role of the automobile in leisure and recreation during the industrial era and into the technetronic age.
- Automobility and the environment, such as the rehabilitation of historic automobiles, and its relationships with energy efficiency, embodied energy and so forth in transportation (“is the greenest car one that has already been built?”)
- Analyzing the contributions of automotive preservation heritage events, auto shows, museums, etc. to the economy and tourism – information that is not always fully included in Main Street programs and other economic development initiatives related to preservation planning.
The program committee invites proposals from people of all backgrounds and professions to participate – from senior professionals to students with innovative ideas – for the following:
1. Paper Session: We prefer to receive proposals for complete three to four paper sessions but will consider individual presentations as well. You are welcome to include a chair and/or moderator or the conference committee will appoint a chair. The entire panel presentation should span no more than 60 minutes.
2. Individual Papers: If accepted, we will place your individual presentation on a panel or roundtable selected by the committee. Paper presentations should span no more than 20 minutes.
3. Roundtables: Discussions facilitated by a moderator with three to five participants about a historical or professional topic or issue. Roundtables should span no more than 60 minutes.
Please submit proposals of no more than 500 words and a brief CV/resume (two pages maximum) in a PDF or MSWord format to Barry L. Stiefel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis between November 1, 2017 and January 5, 2018. Proposals should include the name(s) of presenters, affiliation/position, and contact information. While the Historic Vehicle Association is based in North America, we desire this to be an international conference and encourage international participation. English is the official language of the conference. From the conference, we anticipate publishing a special edition of an academic journal.
A registration fee will be required for the conference ($350 early bird/$450 late registration), which will include three lunches, two dinners, and snacks/beverages at the conference, as well as a one-year membership with the HVA. For currently enrolled students traveling more than 100 miles to Allentown, Pennsylvania assistance with travel and accommodations for the conference will be considered. Please provide documentation of your current course schedule, a budget of what you need assistance with in your proposal, as well as what other resources from which you anticipate receiving support.
Barry L. Stiefel, Associate Professor, College of Charleston
Mark D. Gessler, President, Historic Vehicle Association
H. Donald Capps, Society of Automotive Historians
L. Scott George, The Revs Institute