Accepted Paper:

How to bridge these gaps? Experts and their self-concept  


Jurij Fikfak (ZRC SAZU)

Paper short abstract:

Ethnologists as protectors of heritage are dealing with gaps or structured conflicts, like playing different roles as representatives of national authority and as independent heritage experts; conceiving of cultural heritage as an identification, emancipatory process versus its commodification.

Paper long abstract:

Triglav National Park is a laboratory of different cultural practices and is one of the main areas where almost all structured conflicts are condensed and detectable at quite a few levels. The first and basic issue is "twin legislation"—the legal split between protection of nature and culture. This gap is exacerbated through different sources of finances and through different experts. The other basis for structured conflict is the gap where ethnologists or folklore specialists are the official protectors of culture and have to choose among various options. This involves the issue of dual loyalty. Who should they be responsible to? On the one hand, they are answerable to the state. As its representatives, they must protect the vision that is planned and designed through various cultural protection strategies and inscribed in the law. They must use the power delegated by the state, and therefore they sometimes ignore the needs of the local people. On the other hand, as primary, independent experts in heritage and experts in dealing with people, they need to maintain good dialogue with the people living in the park and must respect them, their image of the world, wishes…

Through interviews with various experts in Slovenian protected areas, this study defines the theoretical basis and frameworks used by ethnologists in the field, their self-concept, concrete practices, and strategies to bridge these gaps. It discusses how suture (in Lacan's sense) is made, e.g. by using cognitive dissonance, resignation, and other strategies.

Panel P32
Theorizing heritage fractures, divides and gaps