Lecture Series: Itinerant Heritage

Interdisciplinary lectures on objects from the colonial age, looted art and the illegal trade in cultural goods

In the 2021/2022 winter semester, the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) at Heidelberg University is hosting a lecture series on the topic of itinerant cultural heritage. The focus of the interdisciplinary lectures is tangible and intangible cultural goods of different kinds that move dynamically between different cultures and forms of intercourse. For example, it deals with stolen art, or illegally traded collectables. The lectures - in English - will reflect approaches from anthropology and archaeology, art history, criminology, museum and area studies. Starting on 26 October 2021, they will be livestreamed Tuesdays from 14:00 to 16:00 and will take place at the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Voßstraße 2 (room 212).

The convenors of the lecture series are Christiane Brosius, professor for visual and media anthropology at the HCTS, and Dr Carsten Wergin, anthropologist and associate professor at the HCTS. "With the series we have foregrounded the mobility and fragility of cultural goods that move in the field of tension between different socio-cultural, political, economic and ecological forces. The focus is, inter alia, on how people engage with their cultural heritage in view of climate change, migration, urbanisation, nationalisms or colonialism," Christiane Brosius explains. Carsten Wergin: "With the concept of ’itinerant heritage’ we highlight the dynamics and mobility of cultural goods - in time and also in space. We are interested in how, and with what consequences, social actors claim cultural heritage for themselves, imagine, transform or critique it."

The curtain-raiser for the lecture series on 26 October will be given by anthropologist Haidy Geismar from University College London (UK) with a lecture on digital cultural heritage. Eight more lectures follow, from November to January 2022, exploring further forms of itinerant cultural heritage with respect to theoretical, methodological and empirical challenges. Besides lectures on handling plundered art from Africa or museum objects acquired during colonialism, the programme also includes sessions on the illegal worldwide trade with cultural goods and the ecological and political-nationalist dimensions of cultural heritage. The final lecture on 1 February 2022 will be given by Wayne Modest, Director of Content at the Museum of World Cultures (Wereldmuseum Rotterdam) and director of the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden (Netherlands), on cultural heritage and its colonial history in the Caribbean.

The speakers include internationally acclaimed experts from Australia, Britain, India, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. The lecture series "Itinerant Heritage: Tracing Transcultural Dynamics and Mobilities" is being organised in cooperation with the Flagship Initiative "Transforming Cultural Heritage" and the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies of Heidelberg University. The livestream link can be obtained by email from: clare.harris@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de


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