Accepted Paper:

Cultural heritage and the theory of repetition  


Pertti Anttonen (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper draws on the recent re-theorization of heritage as a social construction, cultural practice, and act of politics and power, but tries to offer a slightly different viewpoint by bringing up for discussion selected theories of repetition and reiteration.

Paper long abstract:

If 'heritage' stands for all forms of traditional culture, if 'tradition' denotes the handing over, and therefore the transmission of such cultural forms, and if 'transmission' stands for the diffusion, and therefore the repetition of these forms, then 'heritage' is repetition. Present-day theories on heritage making do not, however, emerge from such apparently non-analytical insights. On the contrary, recent analytical discourses on cultural heritage tend to focus on the political nature of heritage production, emphasizing the property and ownership aspect to both tangible and intangible heritage, and the related issues of social power and ideological conflict. Heritage is not, then, 'mere' repetition. Still, repetition is not an alien concept in the undertaking of cultural analysis, including the processes of heritage making. The temporal arguments in heritage production can be viewed as constituting socially constructed acts of repetition and reiteration. From this perspective, the study of heritage production might gain from renewed insights into theories of culture as repetition. It is the purpose of the present author to look into these and suggest a theme issue on the topic in Ethnologia Europaea.

Panel P312
Making heritage, making knowledge