The current crisis is triggering creative ways to craft alternative heritage scenarios and collaborative interventions. At the same time, scholarship has drawn attention to cosmetic uses of participation. What conflicts and social fractures lurk beneath these uses? What alternatives are created?
The "participatory turn" in heritage management points toward "democratic" conservation rationales, public engagement, coproduction, capacity building, empowerment and all manner of "bottom-up" approaches. The meaning of participation, however, varies enormously. Indeed, critical scholarship has drawn attention to "cosmetic" uses and the instrumentalization of participation. Scholars have also highlighted how the empowerment of new social actors creates new interfaces with governments, teaching people to have a heritage and building their capacity to "properly" take care of it. Indeed, it may be argued that this is one of the ways in which heritage interacts with notions of belonging and shapes people's ways of dwelling in the world.
Though the participatory turn may often be politicised, contested and riddled with cynicism, the current crisis is triggering creative ways to relate to heritage and to craft alternative heritage scenarios, experimental interventions and collaborative devices. Like the home, heritage is a place of proliferating imaginations, an object of conflicting desires and constant shortcomings, balanced between hegemonic representations and their contestation. It is important to understand how participation, non-participation, and unconventional imaginations can propose alternative paradigms, interrupt the monotony, and nuance the homogeny of authorized heritage discourses.
Some questions we would like to pose include:
- What different shapes does the participatory turn take in the heritage sector?
- What conflicts and social fractures lurk beneath cosmetic uses of participatory technologies?
- What interests, ambitions, and expectations motivate social movements to organize in favour of, or against, heritage?
We welcome ethnographically grounded, theoretically driven analyses, case studies, and comparisons.