Recent new open access article on professional and amateur engagements with WWI heritage in Western Flanders

A new article involving Cultural Heritage Studies researchers from the University of Helsinki was published just before Christmas and is open access.
Unexploded ordnance collected during excavations by De Diggers at the football field at Langemark on 8 April 2006 (photograph Pol Lefever, courtesy of the In Flanders Fields Museum archive).

Associate Professor Suzie Thomas and Dr Pieterjan Deckers (Århus University) have recently published an open access article titled “‘And now they have taken over’: hobbyist and professional archaeologist encounters with the material heritage of the First World War in western Belgium” in International Journal of Heritage Studies.

The abstract for the new article, which stems from research carried out in Western Flanders during a research visit to Vrije Universiteit Brussel by Thomas and a collaboration with Deckers as part of the Lapland’s Dark Heritage project, reads as follows:

Since almost immediately after the fighting ended, the

First World War (WWI) sites of conflict in Western Flanders, Belgium, have attracted attention from visitors and collectors. Heritage management questions came to the fore especially in the run-up to WWI’s centenary years (2014–2018), and professional archaeologists representing the authorities in Flanders had already begun to take a greater interest in the war’s archaeological remains. The activities of hobbyist amateurs, particularly metal detectorists, came under greater scrutiny. In this article, we explore the perspectives of local hobbyist enthusiasts and heritage professionals in the context of changing attitudes towards and values associated with the material heritage of the WWI in Western Flanders. We reflect upon the tensions that emerge when different interest groups clash, the disagreements between professional and amateur interests, and also upon the particular context of conflict heritage when there are numerous interests and stakeholders involved.

Full reference information:

Suzie Thomas & Pieterjan Deckers (2020) ‘And now they have taken over’: hobbyist and professional archaeologist encounters with the material heritage of the First World War in western Belgium, International Journal of Heritage Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2020.1858142

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