Accepted Paper:

Heritage: just the "new culture"? How the everyday usage of culture is challenging ethnography and cultural analysis  


Bernhard Tschofen (University of Zurich)

Paper short abstract:

Based on the premise that, today, doing culture has to be understood as both acting in culture and acting with culture, this paper discusses new perspectives on the complex field of cultural heritage. It points out a conscious usage of culture in dealing with change and conflicts in everyday life.

Paper long abstract:

The attraction as well as crux of European Ethnology is based on the fact that this discipline deals with a common good. Its key category, "culture", is both an analytical tool of academic research and a means of self-portrayal and also portrayal by others in everyday life. However, from early on, our discipline had to learn that this fact cannot not be understood as a mere dichotomy: What appears like an antagonism of an objective and a subjective mode of culture, like divided types of culture, is in fact strongly interrelated. The circular forms of reference prove that such dichotomies are no longer sustainable. This is one of the reasons for a diminished confidence in the analytical potential of "culture". It is often easier to describe and deconstruct cultural heritage with existing concepts from our discipline than to acknowledge it as a new elaborate mode of culture, as it is indicated in this paper. As an empirical discipline which focuses on everyday life, the popular, and its many ways of envisioning the world, we cannot avoid a concept of culture despite of the described situation. The paper will discuss how people transform their cultural knowledge into useable heritage in the everyday in general and in dealing with the experience of change and fracturing differences in particular.

Panel P32
Theorizing heritage fractures, divides and gaps