The making of post/colonial heritage

Danford Room - 224 on second floor of the Arts Building
Monday 18 September 2017 (13:00-18:30)

For information regarding the programme, please contact Berny Sèbe and Helle Jørgensen:

To register for your free place, please follow the registration link.

The making of post/colonial heritage: Exploring the politics and practices of valuing heritage in postcolonial societies

An international research seminar at the University of Birmingham, 18th September 2017

Few societies in the world remain unaffected by the ongoing cultural processes of dealing with the legacies of the colonial empires which grew up from the fifteenth century onwards, and which have come to see their demise in the period following WWII. Amongst the wide range of changes which it gives rise to at global as well as national and local levels, political decolonisation and the continual cultural process of defining and grappling with the postcolonial condition cause reappraisals of the heritage of the formerly colonised as well as the former colonisers. The process of making a post/colonial heritage for the present touches on the changing perceptions, valuations and uses of indigenous and precolonial heritage as much as on ways of relating to the heritage of the colonial encounter itself, and postcolonial ways of processing it.

This seminar aims to investigate how post/colonial heritage-making becomes part of the processes of postcolonial identity construction and of the continual unfolding of relations between the formerly colonised and former colonisers. It aims to theorise the practices and politics behind assessments of which aspects of both tangible and intangible heritage to value, keep or discard in postcolonial societies, and how to recognise, promote, use and manage assets defined as a heritage of ongoing value. National policies and institutions serve to select and protect officially sanctioned heritage, while unofficial perceptions and uses of heritage from below may have their own agendas that can agree or disagree with official presentations of heritage; and transnational processes such as heritage tourism, migration, and repatriation of objects act as links that continue to tie together the heritage of former colonisers and formerly colonised.

The seminar will explore the many and overlapping arenas in which the making of post/colonial heritage takes place, with a view to bring out the intersections, synergies and contestations that take place within and between them. It aims to bring together researchers from the humanities and social sciences across geographical and methodological lines, taking a multidisciplinary and global perspective to explore the politics and practices of defining, managing, valuing and using heritage in the postcolonial context.

The seminar is organized by the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage and the Postcolonial Birmingham Research Network, and is open to both postgraduate researchers and more established scholars.


1.00 pm: Arts 201: Welcome by the organisers

1.10 pm: Arts 201: Keynote presentation by Prof. Paul Basu, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS
Decolonising heritage in West Africa. A contradiction in terms?

2.10 pm: Danford room, Arts 224: Cultural heritage in post-colonial African and Indian contexts

Prof. Paul Jackson, International Development Department, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham
Post-colonial conflict and policies as colonial heritage: examples from East Africa.

Richard Bigambo, PhD research student, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham
The Management of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Post-Colonial Tanzania

Dr Lucie Ryzova, Lecturer, Department of History, University of Birmingham
Mourning the Archive: Middle Eastern Photographic Heritage between Neo-Liberalism and Digital Reproduction

Sam Kocheri, PhD research student, Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham
The Bible as a postcolonial legacy in India

3.30 pm: John Fage Library, Arts 250: Coffee break

3.50 pm: Danford Room, Arts 224: Between oblivion, atonement and denunciation: The paradoxes of material heritage

Dr Berny Sèbe, Senior Lecturer, Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham
Desert fortifications as national heritage: examples from Algeria and Kazakhstan

Dr Helle Jørgensen, Lecturer, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham
Challenges in preserving and presenting colonial French heritage in India: The case of Puducherry

Prof. Walter Bruyère-Ostells, Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Aix-en-Provence
Franco-Algerian heritage perspectives on the Foreign Legion: post-colonial dialogue or monologue?

Aidatul Bakri, PhD research student, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham
The Representation of Postcolonial Identity: A Case Study of ‘Street Of Harmony’, George Town World Heritage Site, Penang

5.10 pm: Danford Room, Arts 224: Keynote presentation by Dr Sarah Longair, Lecturer, School of History and Heritage, University of Lincoln
The Elephant in the Room: encountering material worlds of colonial memory

6.10 pm: Danford Room, Arts 224: Concluding remarks (Seminar ends at 6.30 pm).