Distortions across the Iron Bridge: The Refraction of Heritage across Oceans and Epochs
Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, USA
Heritage has become a widespread instrument of political action on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Yet the valorisation of the English language and more generally of ‘Western’ culture, in the inchoate but persistent structure of ideas that I have called ‘the global hierarchy of value’, has given this concept a conceptual form that makes it less recognisable in some places than in others, while its refraction through local concepts of antiquity, inheritance and kinship has made its reception and application unpredictable and sometimes inimical to the interests of minority populations. How can heritage become an ethical force and a source of violence at the same time? Why is its reception in the so-called New World so different from its treatment in large swathes of the Old, and why are North Americans so attracted to the antiquities of the Old World in particular? Why, for example, does the usual European association of heritage with conservation encounter modification or even refusal in Buddhist or Islamic contexts, and why do conceptual differences between these and Euro-American understandings of heritage, or even between smaller entities such as Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic religious traditions, have so little impact on the international perception of heritage politics and rights? Why, indeed, is religious identity so central to the politics of heritage? What, at the same time, has been the effect of industrial development on the perception of heritage?
The metaphor of the bridge as analysed by literary scholar Evangelos Calotychos for the Balkans, drawing additionally from the industrial implications of the name ‘Ironbridge’, offers useful ways of understanding both conflict and exchange in the post-industrial era, while E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s metaphor of ‘refraction’ adds temporal depth as we examine the fate of concepts of antiquity and cultural entitlement in the era of globalisation. On this basis, I will tentatively propose some ways of discommoding the currently hegemonic frameworks. The eventual goal is to encourage more genuinely international and less economically over-determined discourses and practices in the treatment of heritage.
Biography: Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where has taught since 1991. The author of eleven books — including Cultural Intimacy (1997), The Body Impolitic (2004), Evicted from Eternity (2009), and Siege of the Spirits (forthcoming) — and numerous articles and reviews, he has also produced two ethnographic films (Monti Moments  and Roman Restaurant Rhythms ). He is IIAS Visiting Professor of Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Leiden (and Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden); Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne; and Visiting Professor and Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) Scholar at Shanghai International Studies University (2015-17). He has served as editor of American Ethnologist (1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several other journals, including International Journal of Heritage Studies, Anthropology Today, and South East Asia Research. His most research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand has addressed, inter alia, the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the discourses and practices of crypto-colonialism, social poetics, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals.
Atlantic Passages, Changing Ecumenes
Ulf Hannerz, Stockholm University, Sweden
For a half-century or so now, I have been preoccupied with terms of cultural openness – creolization, cosmopolitanism, acculturation; but also “ecumene”, as in the global ecumene. Here I will focus on some of the uses of this notion, and its shifting loci in scholarly networks. For one thing, cultural passages across the Atlantic, and understandings of the heritages thus formed, have been centrally important here. Toward these I have also had some observation posts of my own.
Biography: Ulf Hannerz is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, Sweden, where he also received his Ph.D. in 1969, and has taught and held research appointments at several American, European, Asian and Australian universities and research institutions. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, an honorary member and former Chair of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, a former director of the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (SCASSS), and a former editor of the journal Ethnos. His research has been especially in urban anthropology, media anthropology and transnational cultural processes,with field studies in West Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. He has also conducted a study of the work of news media foreign correspondents, including field research in four continents. Among his books are Soulside (1969), Exploring the City (1980), Cultural Complexity (1992), Transnational Connections (1996), Foreign News (2004), and Anthropology’s World (2011); several of them have also appeared in French, Spanish, Italian and Polish. He is also the author and editor of a number of books in Swedish, and was the Anthropology editor for the International Enyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001). In 2005 he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Oslo.