Visual Anthropology and European Cultural Heritage
21-26.09.2015, Warsaw

Europe can no longer be perceived only as a federation of cultures recognized as European. In fact, due to various entanglements and the complex European history it is an area in which convoluted histories of the entire world intertwine. Henry Schwarz, in his writings on post-colonial studies, has described the difficulties in establishing relationships between Europe and Asia, Italy and China (since 13th century), Greece and India (4th century), and the Islamic influences on the Iberian Peninsula, which date back to the early Middle Ages. The Renaissance in Europe was informed by Greek texts, which were preserved and kept by Arabs. One could keep on exploring and listing further examples of interconnections and intermingling influences. In more recent times – in the 20th and 21st century – they became even more complex and have revealed many interconnections, which are a result of massive migration from outside of Europe – not only from former colonies – and migration movements within Europe. Europe’s diversity can thus not be confined to issues of “ethnic” and “national” cultures. It is also worth noting that nowadays there is an observable shift away from the tendency to preserve the “purity” of cultures and traditions.

European heritage – following this line of argumentation – is not only a heritage of the Europeans. Since the very first expeditions, there have been artefacts gathered from across the world, which constitute a heritage of non-European cultures. The project of “musealization” of the world remains, however, problematic in many respects. It manifests itself in terms like colonialism and post-colonialism – both can be related also to strictly European heritage (orientalisation of East-Central Europe). Difficult and painful chapters of European history (totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, the displacements and resettlements) have also produced a troublesome and disputable heritage. Given the venue of the conference and history of this region, political entanglements of heritage are an issue that calls for special attention. Heritage – both tangible and intangible – is not merely a testimony of the past; just like identity it has also a prospective meaning.

In accordance with the project “Images of Cultural Diversity and Heritage”, co-financed within the framework of “Promotion of Diversity in Culture and Arts within European Cultural Heritage EEA FM 2009 – 2014” programme, broadly understood issues of diversity and heritage with regard to Europe will constitute the topic of the festival and the conference. We invite scholars to submit abstracts concerning anthropological theoretical reflection or analysis of practices, different forms of preserving heritage, and performative discussions with both heritage and diversity (not only artefacts but actors and acts, e.g. historical re-enactment groups). The aim of the conference is to discuss the changing role of museums and film (or other audiovisual media) in education, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. Keywords: Europe, heritage, cultural diversity, visuality and new media.

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Panel 1. Heritage, cultural diversity and media:

  • audiovisual media in preservation of cultural heritage in both its tangible and intangible aspects
  • audiovisual media in education as means for educating about cultural diversity
  • ethnographic film and film festivals as tools for promoting the idea of cultural diversity
  • cooperation with local communities with the use of audiovisual media

Panel 2. Cultural heritage. Theory and praxis:

  • cultural diversity of contemporary Europe in a perspective of European cultural heritage
  • new models and concepts of preserving heritage
  • technologies of preserving heritage
  • heritage and cultural diversity from different perspectives: macro-level (strategies, policies, programs) and local
  • heritage, memory and strategies of commemoration
  • performativity of cultures, embodiment of culture, tacit knowledge and tools and methods of preserving cultural heritage

Panel 3. Difficult Heritage:

  • heritage of post-socialism
  • heritage of post-colonialism
  • politics of display of difficult heritage

Scientific Board: dr hab. Anna Malewska-Szałygin prof. UW, prof. Rossella Ragazzi, dr hab. Slawomir Sikora, prof. Frode Storaas Scientific Advisor: prof. Peter Crawford Conference Coordinator: Karolina J. Dudek (PhD)