Exploring the Links among Cultural Heritage, Environment, and Resilience
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Heritage & Society is pleased to host its Fourth Annual International Heritage Conference
Co-organized by: the Center for Heritage & Society (UMass Amherst) and the Centre for Heritage at Kent (University of Kent)
May 14-16, 2014 – At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Michael Herzfeld, Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University
Mindy Fullilove, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Public Health, Columbia University
Rodney Harrison, Reader in Archaeology, Heritage and Museum Studies, Institute of Archaeology, University College London
Whether on an on an individual or a societal scale, heritage and well-being are often seen as disparate concerns. When heritage is viewed as related to community well-being, its value is often reduced to economic development and tourism, rather than something that might be integral to wellness on a larger scale. But how can the collective remaking of the past in the present play a role in imagining a more sustainable and healthy future?
The goal of this conference is to explore the application of the past to contemporary and future social challenges, specifically sustainability and wellbeing. Given the current focus on climate change, rising sea levels, and the displacement of peoples, the wellness of societies is a critical issue. But until now, heritage has had little to say about the subject. The conference will explore the relationship between heritage and three interrelated aspects of sustainability and wellbeing. They include: (1) Heritage and environment: How can heritage be brought to bear on the problems of environmental sustainability, including changing ecosystems, food security, and dwindling energy resources? (2)Heritage and resilience: How does the past affect issues of social sustainability, including community adaptability, cohesion and identity? (3) Heritage and wellness: How do cases of historical trauma, and the processes of continuity and memory relate to physical and mental health of individuals and society?
Major Themes and Suggested Topics
The conference will bring together heritage scholars from a wide range of sectors to examine the potential of cultural heritage to contribute to a more sustainable future. We will do so by promoting transdisciplinary explorations of the intersections among heritage and environment, resilience, and wellness.
Themes to be explored in this conference include:
1. Heritage and Environment: The problematic separation of nature and culture in Western ontologies has contributed to an instrumental relationship to the natural world and the attendant problems of environmental degradation, air pollution, and dwindling energy resources. Within heritage policy, this binary is reproduced in the separation of “natural” and “cultural” landscapes in national and international legal frameworks, such as UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, resulting in the problematic separation of natural and cultural resources in issues of planning and development. More recent calls for flat, “connectivity ontologies” (Harrison 2013) and “multi-naturalist perspectives” (Latour 2004, de Castro 2004) that situate humans and non-humans in interconnected webs or assemblages (Deleuze 2004) offer a way of broadening discussions of sustainability to encompass human and non-human actors and environments. Papers in this theme will examine how uses of the past in the context of practices such as local foodways, environmental activism, and climate mitigation (wind farms, solar energy, etc.) contribute to the rebuilding of a common world between humans and non-humans, and to environmental sustainability.
2. Heritage and Resilience: A range of scholars have highlighted the ways in which people’s interactions with place can contribute to a sense of group resilience—a perspective often lost when heritage objects, sites and landscapes are assumed to carry their own inherent meanings. Jane Grenville (2007), for example, has highlighted how the built environment provides a sense of “ontological security” that can contribute to a sense of human creativity in the face of social upheaval. Similarly, Michael Herzfeld (2004) has shown how cultural intimacy and vibrant sociability engender local resistance to the monumentalization of social space and neoliberal processes of urban restructuring. Finally, Mindy Fullilove (2005) has charted the “emotional ecosystems” that congeal group solidarity in urban environments, and the traumatic stress or “root shock” that can be brought on by urban renewal. Building on these notions of ontological security, cultural intimacy, and emotional ecosystems, papers in this theme will explore how uses of the past contribute to social sustainability by engendering group resilience and/or resistance to multi-scalar processes of social displacement whether of the environmental, developmental, or neoliberal varieties.
3. Heritage and Wellness: Just as the nature-culture divide has narrowed the scope of landscapes to the technical management of natural sites, so too in the fields of medicine, epidemiology and public health, the study of the factors giving rise to physical and social health have been narrowed to consider risk and protective factors and their relationship to the etiology of disease. Far less attention has been directed at the ways in which place, intergenerational continuity and collective and autobiographical memory affect personal and community wellbeing. Research among public health scholars has highlighted correlations between discrete cultural factors such as acculturation stress, historical trauma, and rapid social change and negative health outcomes. Other scholars have pointed to the positive health outcomes associated with enculturation, personal and cultural identity, intergenerational continuity, and civic engagement. How these associations are made possible and the ways in which they “work” are rich areas for interdisciplinary investigations. Papers in this theme will explore the ways in which personal and community interpretations and portrayal of heritage influence physical and mental health individually and on a population level, and the broader relationships between culture, identity, ecology and health.
Specific topics under these themes may include:
Heritage and climate change
Historic urban landscapes and sustainability
Social dislocation, trauma, and wellbeing
Slow food and local foodways
Adaptive reuse and green building
Traditional forms of healing
Heritage and “happiness”
Place attachment and community well-being
Eco-museums and community
Submission of Abstracts
Abstracts for organized sessions, research papers, and poster presentations will be accepted until February 1, 2014. We strongly encourage the submission of abstracts as part of organized sessions, which will be considered for invited session status. Organized sessions should include both panel and individual paper abstracts (a maximum of 300 words in English with a maximum of one illustration or screenshot). Notification of acceptance will be made by Feb. 15, 2014, and conference registration must be made by March 1, 2014.
Early Bird Registration – Professional (by March 30) $210
Early Bird Registration – Student (by March 30) $125
Regular Registration – Professional (before May 1) $260
Regular Registration – Student (before May 1) $155
Late Registration – Professional (on or after May 1) $290
Late Registration – Student (on or after May 1) $190
Registration includes conference attendance and program, coffee breaks, and opening and closing receptions for May 14-16. Optional banquet dinner and lunch available on site. Details for registration and accommodations will be available soon.
For questions or requests for additional information, please contact CHS Research Assistant Grace Cleary (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the CHS website: http://www.umass.edu/chs