CFP: When “the rest” enters “the West” – Critical Heritage Studies, Sweden

An interesting CFP from a cultural geography list. If my schedule this summer weren’t so hectic with the move to Toronto and other conferences I’ve already committed to, I might have been curious enough to respond to this CFP for the inaugural conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies. I’ve written about the Korean missionary assertion that Korea is economically and geopolitically located between the West and the rest (and how this informs their travel/development practices throughout the world), which very much relates to this theme. And even the “language travels” paper I’ve co-written on the South Korean temporary residents and their “cosmopolitan” pursuits in Canada might have a place in this critical framework of heritage. See more sessions here. Below is an excerpt about critical heritage studies from here:

Above all, we want you to critically engage with the proposition that heritage studies needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, which requires the ‘ruthless criticism of everything existing’. Heritage is, as much as anything, a political act and we need to ask serious questions about the power relations that ‘heritage’ has all too often been invoked to sustain. Nationalism, imperialism, colonialism, cultural elitism, Western triumphalism, social exclusion based on class and ethnicity, and the fetishising of expert knowledge have all exerted strong influences on how heritage is used, defined and managed. We argue that a truly critical heritage studies will ask many uncomfortable questions of traditional ways of thinking about and doing heritage, and that the interests of the marginalised and excluded will be brought to the forefront when posing these questions.

The study of heritage has historically been dominated by Western, predominantly European, experts in archaeology, history, architecture and art history. Though there have been progressive currents in these disciplines they sustain a limited idea of what heritage is and how it should be studied and managed. The old way of looking at heritage – the Authorised Heritage Discourse – privileges old, grand, prestigious, expert approved sites, buildings and artefacts that sustain Western narratives of nation, class and science. There is now enough sustained dissatisfaction with this way of thinking about heritage that its critics can feel confident in coming together to form an international organisation to promote a new way of thinking about and doing heritage – the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.


For the inaugural conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies on the topic of “Re-theorisation of Heritage” in Gothenburg, Sweden, 5-8 June 2012 (, I seek contributions to the following session:

When ‘the rest’ enters ‘the West’: Heritage in a Postcolonial Age
Since the beginning of modernity, international heritage tourists’ travel routes have typically led from “the West” to “the rest” of the world (“the West and the rest”, cf. Stuart Hall). In the last few years, however, the expansion and lower cost of travel opportunities on the one hand, and the economic upturn in parts of the global “East” and “South” on the other hand, have made western destinations accessible for more and more people from the former “rest of the world” in the framework of leisure-time travelling.

This session enquires whether and how western-influenced patterns of world order, constructions of identities, as well as interactions in tourist space change when “the West” no longer tours “the rest”, as has been practiced for centuries, but when “the rest” starts to knock on Western doors in order to consume locally, now in the role of tourists to be served,

– their own heritage in the western world, and/or
– “the West” in the variety of its local heritages.

With which consequences, re-establishing or thwarting existing power relations between cultures, will heritage(s) in these touristic settings be (re-)negotiated and (re-)experienced?Particularly welcome are empirically oriented papers that examine the interaction of specific groups in tourist settings, such as travelers (from the global “South”/“East”), those visited (in the “West”) and those active in the service sector. Also very welcome are theoretically informed papers that criticize central concepts of heritage (tourism) studies – such as the tourist gaze, authenticity, experiential vs. educational tourism – for reproducing the West-rest-paradigm, or that challenge the West/rest dichotomy still noticeable in much heritage re­search.

In a nutshell, this session aims to bring together papers that take diverse “the rest and the West”-scenarios in the field of heritage tourism as a point of departure in order to

  • a) critically reflect the “West-rest-paradigm” in the field of heritage research,
  • b) sketch out new categories of scientific thinking and
  • c) set out to work on a new, postcolonial heritage research agenda.

Please send a title and abstract of no more than 250 words to Sybille Frank ( by 29 January 2012.

Dr. Sybille Frank
Vertretungsprofessur für Soziologie des Raums
Goethe Universität Frankfurt
FB Gesellschaftswissenschaften
Robert-Mayer-Str. 5
Postfach 11 19 32
D-60054 Frankfurt am Main
Telefon +49.069.798-22929 / Sekr.: -22052