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Accepted paper:

Between Can-Do and Must-Doubt: Cultural collaborations at an emerging transnational heritage site in Poland

Author:

Hannah Wadle (Adam Mickiewicz University)

Paper short abstract:

By drawing on a long-term engagement with the transnational community of a decayed post-East Prussian country estate in Poland, this paper reflects on the surfacing of doubts and their future-making force. It traces the anthropologist's internal dialogue between can-do and must-doubt in engaging.

Paper long abstract:

While public interventions have become an increasingly accepted anthropological practice, doubts are an inherent part of the process. In this paper, I reflect on the presence and surfacing of doubts and their productive and halting force. I will bring the process of doubting into conversation with the confidence in some form doing and ask: What kind of action is doubting in public engagement and how can it be framed as part of anthropological intervention into future-making?

I am drawing on four years of my public engagement with the community of visitors, residents, and heritage activists around a decayed country estate in Northeast Poland.

The engagement begins in 2016 with an exhibition and a series of events based on my doctoral research around the socialist and post-socialist history of the manor. This first event evolves into a yearly, week-long cultural festival that gets official acknowledgement and receives public and private funding. As a substantial grant application is in preparation, these cultural activities have become a valuable asset to international heritage activists.

Doubts about the intervention, especially its sources of funding and the evolving pownership structure of the project have accompanied me since the beginning. The moral conundrums of the ruined estate, in which to position oneself include post-World War II relations between Poland and Germany, Post-Cold War social inequalities, European "Integration", regional "development" and national "progress", post-feudal, and post-Prussian nostalgia. This paper seeks a critical and self-reflexive peer-platform to discuss the empirics of doubt in the interventions of future-oriented anthropology.

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Futures Anthropology as Interventional Theory and Practice [Future Anthropologies Network]