Accepted Paper:

A resurrected heritage? The notion of heritage in the Aromanian ethnic revitalization project  

Author:

Marketa Zandlova (Charles University in Prague)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses how the activists of the Aromanian ethnic revitalization movement utilize the notion of heritage. I want to argue that the more the “cultural heritage“ is constructed and represented as definitive and unchangeable, the less it really serves as a resource for the revitalization project.

Paper long abstract:

In my paper I would like to discuss how the activists of the Aromanian ethnic revitalization movement in Bulgaria employ the notion of "heritage". The Aromanian revitalization project is being negotiated in the dialectic between the past and the future. The past is decontextualized, simplified, idealized and linked with particular narratives (myths of origin and exodus; narratives of Aromanian character and morality etc.), places (highland pastures, seasonal dwellings, the town of Moskopolis etc.), "traditions" (songs, dances, rituals etc.) and material artefacts (objects embodying (semi)nomadic pastoralism, specific crafts or trade). The resulting image of an essentialized and conserved past is perceived and represented as "The Aromanian Heritage". A substantial part of Aromanian elites considers this heritage as the only resource and legitimization for the restoration of "the Aromanianness" in the future; its obligation rests exactly in its unchangeability. The desired outcome of the revitalization efforts could be described as a utopian vision of a "resurrected heritage".

In my presentation I would like to focus particularly on specific heritage sites (former dwelling of Bakitsa, Bulgaria, and the town of Moskopolis, Albania) and museum of Aromanian culture (Velingrad, Bulgaria) and to show the limits of the above mentioned conceptualization of heritage: the more the "cultural heritage" is being constructed and represented as definitive and unchangeable, the less it really serves as a resource for the revitalization project.

Panel Heri006
Heritage as social, economic and utopian resource