Panel Search-- Activism, Civil Society and Heritage

Ali Mozaffari's picture
Call for Papers
June 6, 2016 to June 10, 2016
Quebec, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Area Studies, Humanities, Social Sciences, Sociology

Scholars are invited to submit abstracts for the following session within the Association of Critical heritage Studies Conference 2016 at  Montreal

Conference Title:

Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference 2016 (



Session Title:

Activism, Civil Society and Heritage

Session type:

Regular paper session, open


Heritage processes vary according to cultural, national, geographical, and historical contexts. Since the late 1980s, the phenomenon of contestation in heritage has been increasingly recognised. However, there is still little detailed and situated knowledge about the range of actors present in contestations, the variety of strategies they pursue, the reasoning behind their choices, the networks they develop, and how from all this, heritage has been and is constructed. More often than not, contestation appears to be essentialised as occurring between the ‘state’ (often treated as a monolith) and the people or the community (such as certain uses of the idea of Authorised Heritage Discourse in Uses of Heritage). Following this trend, much of the growing body of scholarship on heritage has tended to assume universalising theoretical positions based on limited, specific contexts, thus somewhat compromising the ability to draw nuanced and theoretical positions that take into account the diversity of contexts within which heritage is produced.

This panel acknowledges the emerging trends in heritage studies which take into account what may be described as relational aspects of heritage construction, such as those inspired by Deleuze, which examine heritage in terms of assemblages (Harrison 2013), Latour’s Actor-Network Theory (Krauss 2008), or other approaches that are increasingly considering heritage as part of human, material and social flows. The premise of this panel is that heritage is constructed, contested, and negotiated through actions of players or actors and within traceable places and spaces (arenas) through the course of time. Of interest here are the mechanisms of heritage construction and contestation as well as the conceptual and theoretical perspectives that may drive interpretation of realities on the ground.

The panel is open to scholars from any field of enquiry. We invite contributors to focus on different aspects of heritage in diverse areas to examine questions including but not limited to the following:

  • Activism is not limited to individuals. A player in heritage may be an individual, a compound player such as an NGO, or even a state entity such as a heritage organisation with divergent internal perspectives. Who is a heritage activist? How do activists identify themselves?
  • How does the material turn in social sciences, with its recognition of the role of non-human actors and distributed agency, transform our understanding of contentious heritage?
  • What is the micro-politics of heritage in social movements including preservationist movements?
  • What is the relationship between heritage and individual or collective activism? 
  • How does activism change heritage and how does heritage change activism?
  • How does engagement with media transform heritage? What are the preferred modes of communication and media for heritage and why? What does the preference tell us about the relationship between civil society, public sphere and heritage?
  • How and why is heritage transformed into a cause?
  • How does advocacy for heritage manifest itself?
  • Where does contestation take place? And why?
  • What is the role of space and place in forms of contesting heritage? Does contestation lead to new definitions and experiences of place and space? At what scales?
  • Other questions that may explore the relationship between agency, materiality, affect and heritage will also be considered.
Contact Info: 

Dr Ali Mozaffari, Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University

Dr Tod Jones, Department of Geography and Planning, School of Built Environment, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University