The Cultural Heritage Academic Interdisciplinary Network (CHAIN) – launched in 2021 by a group of PhD students in Sciences of Cultural Heritage and Production enrolled at the University of Catania – aims to promote interdisciplinary dialogue among junior scholars, researchers, and cultural operators on the topic of cultural heritage. The second edition of the Chain Conference will explore the relationship between cultural heritage and crisis conditions from different research perspectives, focusing on how much the latter has been, and still is, a point of both arrival and departure for processes of change. “Crisi” in the Italian language refers to any situation of discomfort and unease that is most often perceived as a symptom or consequence of the development of profound organic or structural changes. The term derives from the Ancient Greek κρίσις (i.e. crisis, from κρίνω, i.e. crinō, lat. crisis), which embraces “choice”, “decision”, “judgement”, as well as the “critical phase of an illness” among its meanings.
Within the long-lasting and widespread scenario of political, economic and social crisis, UNESCO has recently drawn attention to the leading role of culture as a key component within the process of ensuring the fulfillment of the objectives illustrated by the 2030 Agenda. Among the insights provided by Culture 2030, there is an incitement to cultural projects able to stimulate a greater involvement of communities and territories. These suggestions are also thoroughly in line with the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention 2005), which was conclusively ratified by the Italian Chamber of Deputies in September 2020 and by the UE’s Recommendation (2018) about core competences.
A few months after the introduction of these new indicators, the aforementioned “crises” have been compounded by a new and sudden one, that is the worldwide health crisis caused by the fast spread of the SARS‑CoV‑2, which within a short span of time has profoundly changed the daily life of millions of people. Therefore, “crisis” seems to be the word that best defines the most recent historical period.
Accordingly, through the multidisciplinary scientific contributions developed by junior scholars, Chain Conference 2022 will lay the groundwork to reflect on the link between the condition of “crisis” – which humanity has always experienced – and cultural heritage. More specifically, its aim is to explore the nexus between crisis and cultural heritage through three research perspectives that will give rise to three sessions of the conference, summed up in the keywords: Evidence, Use, Resource. It is perhaps crucial to emphasize that the elaboration of the conference themes aims to include several research approaches in order to encourage a rich and inclusive discussion. Chain Team counts on receiving paper proposals that investigate a wide chronological span ranging from the ancient to the contemporary world, in order to represent synchronic and diachronic perspectives.
The first perspective (Evidence) concerns the ways in which a crisis can be witnessed, tackled or exorcised through objects and practices that nowadays are acknowledged as part of our tangible and intangible cultural heritage, such as: epigraphic and papyrological sources, monuments, archaeological finds, votive offerings, linguistic expressions, literary and artistic production, and folk traditions. At the same time, crisis offers an opportunity for revival, a fresh start and a creative impulse. Various art and literary movements such as Modernism, Expressionism, Neorealism, the New theatre of the 1980s and the Theatre of the Absurd were born out of the crises of their particular time. Is it possible to argue, through the analysis of the tangible and intangible traces left by the crisis, how it serves as a stimulus and/or an integral part of the process of shaping cultural heritage?
Then, the second perspective (Use) allows us to analyze the ways in which the crisis can change configurations, times and opportunities to enjoy cultural heritage. As a matter of fact, especially in the last two years, there has been a rather marked reshaping in the ways of engaging with heritage; given a situation where mobility and physical “presence” have not always been possible. In such a context, the necessary role of digitization of material and immaterial cultural heritage has increasingly emerged as a widespread phenomenon that involves both the public and private milieux; now it is clearly understood to be an opportunity for growth, promotion, and development. Digitalizing cultural heritage means activating knowledge, preservation, and appreciation in countless fields, from historical, archaeological, and archival disciplines to performing arts disciplines, such as music, theatre, and cinema. What novel tools and new paths are being opened up by crisis to safeguard the enjoyment of cultural heritage?
Finally, the last perspective (Resource) concerns cultural heritage as a resource for “solving” the crisis. Recovery from an economic crisis can be based, for instance, on the revival of tourism linked to cultural heritage, which in turn becomes an opportunity to increase employment in the cultural sector. Heritage can also act as glue for the social fabric, by preventing the disintegration of the community at a time of identity crisis or it can be seen as a meeting point between citizens and public institutions working through various functions in knowledge creation, preservation, and enhancement of cultural heritage. What choices, what changes and what opportunities have been made and/or faced, even in the past, thanks to cultural heritage? Which case studies give evidence of the employment of cultural heritage as a resource to cope with crisis?
Participants are invited to submit contributions exploring the crisis-cultural heritage nexus, by approaching one or more of the above macro-themes at a theoretical level and/or through the observation of case studies.
The interdisciplinary study meeting – which will take place both in-person and remotely – is intended to be an opportunity to join the discussion on an urgent and pressing issue for those engaged in the academic line of cultural heritage and/or production. The conference is, although not exclusively, meant for doctoral students in sciences of cultural heritage and production. Every speaker will have 20 minutes (presentation can be either in English or Italian); discussion time will be arranged after every session. Daily sessions will be introduced by a keynote lecture.
An abstract (max. 300 words) – in Italian or English – along with a short bio (max. 250 words) and an essential bibliography, can be sent by 7th of March 2022 to the e-mail address: email@example.com. Notification of acceptance will be sent via e-mail by 31st of March 2022.
A registration fee is required to participate in the conference:
25€ for in-person and remote participants
Speakers’ enrolment procedure and the payment method will be disclosed after the acceptance.
Updates, schedules, and information will be provided via email, on the website
(www.chain-conference.com), and on social channels (Facebook, Linkedin).
***the indicated dates of the conference are approximate and to be defined.
TEAM CHAIN 2022
Serena D’Amico, Valeria Guarnera, Mario Indelicato, Nicol Oddo (responsabile), Marco Prete, Federica Romano.
Giusi Meli, Thea Messina, Nicol Oddo, Giulia Raimondi, Giovanna Santaera.
Carmelo Lombardo, Giusi Meli (responsabile), Giovanna Santaera, Paolino Trapani.
Paola Budano, Claudia Giordano, Federica Grasso, Lucrezia Longhitano, Thea Messina, Francesca Prado, Giulia Raimondi (responsabile), Giuseppe Sanfratello.
PhD FACULTY BOARD CHAIN 2022
Maria Rosa De Luca (Musicology)
Daniele Malfitana (Archeology)
Pietro Militello (PhD coordinator, Archeology)
Stefania Rimini (Cinema, Television and Photography)
Romilda Rizzo (Public Economics)
Simona Todaro (Archeology)