Accepted Paper:

Localizing the turf: museum politics and global change  

Author:

Sigurjon Hafsteinsson (University of Iceland)

Paper long abstract:

With the election of a new government in 1991 in Iceland, neo-liberal ideology of governance was introduced. Now state sponsorship of economic activity was deemed to be morally wrong, because it skewed competition, and was considered economically wasteful. Previously state run businesses were privatized and a powerful discourse arose on the importance of individual initiative, responsibility, and freedom. This political change affected the cultural scene profoundly, including the museum sector, with its emphasis on localization, de-centralization, institutional revisionism and global participation. In this paper, that is based on ethnographic research, I will discuss how these changes have undermined the authoratative status of the National Museum of Iceland in relation to its role as the guardian of the museum´s Historic Buildings Collection and architectural heritage. In particular I will discuss the ways in which Icelandic architectural heritage has become a contested local restitution project at a time when governmentally sponsored initative to reserve a place for Icelandic turfhouse heritage on UNESCO´s World Heritage List takes place.

Panel W037
The local in times of change