Keynote Lectures

Cultural heritage: politics, nationalism and populism

Laurajane Smith, Australian National University

Cultural heritage and the emotions of nostalgia are closely entangled and both have become weaponised in populist national debates.  From the nostalgic reflection explicit in the ‘make America great again’ election slogan, to the yearning for an empire long gone that underlies Brexit and the vilification and incarceration of migrants and refuges, heritage has, in some measure, been implicated. Nor is this a new phenomenon, heritage studies itself arose as a recognizable field in the 1980s, at least in the Anglophone context, within the context of Thatcherite uses of heritage and nostalgia and Roland Reagan’s mawkish campaign cry ‘let’s make America great again’. At this time heritage was vilified as explicitly ‘capital C’ conservative.

This talk will theorise both the affective qualities of heritage and the processes through which heritage becomes a resource of political power. As both an emotional and political resource heritage becomes readily mobilised within right-wing populist movements and the talk analyses how and why this occurs. However, this utilisation, is not an inevitable quality of either heritage or nostalgia. There are important lessons to be learned by the left, particularly with respect to understanding the emotional qualities of heritage that in turn have implications for the analyses of populist movements and the mobilisation of heritage and nostalgia for and by the left.


Critical (re)conceptualizations in the politics of heritage

Kristin Kuutma, University of Tartu

The booming field of current heritage studies is complex, versatile, and often characterized by contradictory significance or interpretation, as claims for heritage can appear to be simultaneously uplifting and profoundly problematic. The discordant nature of heritage preservation relies on its identification, which is often a result of modern scholarship and its knowledge production process. The preservationist agendas involved have often a noble cause of care for heritage on global scale but may reveal a friction with local representational symbols or existential priorities.

Heritage posits a value-laden configuration without a neutral ground of connotation. The concept of cultural heritage carries an emotional charge and a value structure that implies scalar practices. It furthers a mode of cultural production with reformative social and economic significance. Cultural heritage is not a given but a social construct and cultural practice with reverberations on global scale. The making of heritage emanates from appended valorisation of symbolic and material resources. Designation of cultural heritage renders a project of ideology with ambivalent temporal entanglements between a past moment and present concerns.

Heritage is about the regulation and negotiation of the multiplicity of meanings in the past, and it is about the arbitration and mediation of the cultural and social politics of identity, belonging and exclusion. It emerges from the nexus of politics and power, which instrumentalizes the representational capacity of heritage designations. On the other hand, this configuration reflects economic concerns, be it in the capacity to demonstrate affluence, dominance and the exceptional, or in the versatility of cultural expressions and environments in marginal communities that reversibly relate to poverty and deprivation.

My discussion of the conceptualization of cultural heritage situates the focus in the context of heritage politics, in order to draw attention also to the scalar contexts of heritage identification, ownership and representation, in particular to the ‘intangible cultural heritage’ as established by UNESCO. The concept of cultural heritage is today profoundly informed by the international discourse led by this global organisation whose conventions play an instrumental role in producing such heritage. Reformative activities initiated and governed by such supra-national body for arbitration and policy development set the stage for particular institutional structures, define the subject matter and orchestrate culture-orientated politics on global scale. At the same time, the designated legal instruments and respective heritage industries have concurrently generated the conceptual and institutional polarisation of cultural heritage into tangible and intangible, which is embedded in the rhetoric of scale that demarcates target spheres and areas of expertise. In the field of heritage policy, authority is accorded to expert knowledge and precedence given to professional interventions that create in turn particular communities of interest, involving stakeholders and stewardship, which call for a continuous reflexive and critical approach in doing heritage studies.


‘Dark’ heritage?

Suzie Thomas, University of Helsinki

In recent years, a particular strand within cultural heritage studies has developed, known in shorthand as ‘dark’ heritage (Light 2017). This term, inspired by the older sub-discipline of dark tourism and in recent years becoming a de facto umbrella for related concepts such as dissonant, contested, ambivalent or negative heritage, appears to be gaining traction. However, its increased usage does not always point to a clear or universal definition, but rather tacit assumptions over what it might mean.

My colleagues and I are guilty in part of perpetuating the continued ‘dark heritage’ referencing through our ongoing research collective “Lapland’s Dark Heritage” (e.g. Thomas, Seitsonen and Herva 2016), stemming from an Academy of Finland project which began in 2014. Investigating the ongoing impacts of the legacy of the Second World War in contemporary Finnish Lapland, the project has shed light on local sentiments towards both tangible and intangible reminders of conflict. It has critiqued, among other things, the apparent state-sanctioned silencing of some aspects of that past, as well as analyzing the ruptures caused to traditional Northern lifeways also in the context of continued colonial frameworks. Yet scholars are not merely innocent observers. It is also apparent that the very act of studying a particular area, period and category of features through the ‘heritage’ lens also plays a transformative role, with evidence that both official policy and commercial-oriented touristic marketing strategies – not to mention the press – are taking greater interest than earlier in the physical reminders of the war (Thomas 2019).

In my presentation, then, I look at ‘dark heritage’ on three levels. Firstly, I lay out the particulars of the “Lapland’s Dark Heritage” project and its apparent impact on discussions and actions outside of academia, including for heritage management policy. Secondly, I problematize the term and its development through the frameworks of critical heritage studies – challenging the assumptions inherent in the term itself concerning what makes its focus either ‘dark’ or indeed ‘heritage’. Finally, I take a wider view, questioning whether the analyses we make as scholars – and particularly as critical heritage scholars – have relevance or even interest to the wider society. By doing this I hope to contribute to the broader debate concerning the future direction of heritage studies, and in particular the apparent disconnect between applied heritage management training and methods, and the more theoretical critical heritage discourses.



National Parks as Sites of Cultural Heritage or Re-Indigenization of National Parks

Rani-Henrik Andersson (Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies)

In 2017 the New Zealand river Te Awa Tupua became a person. For the Māori, Te Awa Tupua has always been one, but now the New Zealand Government acknowledged that it has the legal identity with all the corresponding rights and duties of a legal person. Te Awa Tupua has been re-indigenized. For generations, the worldviews of Indigenous peoples have been pushed aside in discourses of nature preservation and conservation. National parks are constructed spaces of nature, with specific boundaries, sets of rules and regulations that are aimed at guiding how people are supposed to be in that place. In creating protected spaces of nature, nation-states have built their management strategies on Western notions of wilderness preservation and thus “the way of being” is based on Euro-American worldviews. While national parks serve as important sites of cultural heritage and nature protection, they are also colonial constructs and can represent loss of traditional homelands and cultural heritage to the many Indigenous peoples who previously inhabited these now bordered spaces of nature. Despite ongoing problems, during the past decade there have been efforts to develop more inclusive policies and practices through collaboration between Indigenous peoples and non-native administrators. This shift in Indigenous engagement provides scholars a new opportunity to investigate their role within nation-states and conservation.

My presentation will approach the topic from a cultural standpoint, using current methodologies that highlight indigenous agency and decolonization methods. This presentation is part of a larger project that investigates examples of successful collaborations between indigenous peoples and non-native stakeholders of protected spaces of nature as forms of re-indigenization.


An Indigenous Digital Humanities Perspective on the Production of Cultural Heritage

Coppélie Cocq (University of Helsinki)

The issue of cultural heritage, in indigenous contexts, is a sensitive and politicized topic – for instance in relation to commodification, to questions of entitlement and ownership of knowledge and to the implications of exposure. Although these aspects of cultural heritage production are not specific for Indigenous groups, the consequences of colonialism and minority/majority relations add a complex layer to be addressed. 

Moreover, in our contemporary digital context, we ought to examine how the production of the digital cultural record takes place from the perspective of critical heritage studies. Digital humanities, as the humanistic inquiry in a digital age, includes how the digital influences our lives, our research, our teaching as well as the application of digital methods, tools and approaches to humanistic research. Within and beyond this broad area, there is an urgent need to develop Indigenous Digital Humanities approaches. Those invite us to focus on Indigenous knowledges, applying perspectives from Indigenous research in terms of positionality and ethics, addressing for instance issues of authority, entitlement and decolonization.

From this perspective, I will in this presentation discuss the needs, limits and potentials of the production of Indigenous cultural heritage in a digital age. Beyond asking what is in the repositories of Indigenous cultural heritage, what is missing, and for whom these collections are compiled, we also ought to ask what values and forms of knowledge are embedded in the methodologies behind the process of producing and sharing Indigenous cultural heritage.

Classifications, Conceptualisations and Concepts – the Order of Heritage

Johanna Enqvist (University of Helsinki)

Drawing from the sociocognitive approach of terminology, conceptual analysis and critical discourse studies I will discuss and demonstrate how world views, ideologies, knowledge systems, and the intertwined dyad of knowledge and power are embedded in classifications, conceptualisations and conceptual systems of heritage institutions. 

Classifications and conceptualisations are necessary for ordering the otherwise chaotic reality and abundance of potential heritage objects. However, they also carry a package loaded with connotations, allusions and direct references connecting to ideologies, knowledge systems and structures of power intertwined with the development and history of Western science, societies and nation-building. Consequently, classifications and conceptual systems offer one key to the deconstruction and analysis of the ‘categorical legacies’ of academic, administrative and professional heritage institutions, organisations and policies. 

The underlying presumption for my analysis suggests that any conceptual system always reflects and produces ‘ideological meanings’, that is elementary conceptions and categorisations concerning ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or ‘us’ and ‘them’. At the same time, these ideologies serve power by legitimising existing social relations and positions of power. The concepts and conceptual systems adopted, produced and maintained by the heritage institutions do not make an exception in this regard. Also, the entire classification process to create heritage collections and lists – with all the exclusions, inclusions, evaluations and prioritisations –  constructs systems of knowledge, epistemes. The existing classifications and taxonomies of heritage institutions might thus enable some ways of knowing but prevent others.

Moreover, as cultural theorist and critic Mieke Bal (2002) has claimed, we should care for concepts because they “are the sites of debate, awareness of difference, and tentative exchange”. Therefore, I argue that concepts compose the backbone of cultural analysis and interdisciplinary studies, such as museum and heritage studies – not because they mean the same thing for everyone, but because they do not.


Global Heritage in Digital Fantasy: Values and Collective Memories in the Game of The Elder Scrolls Online

Derek Fewster (University of Helsinki)

Representations and modifications of real-world heritage abound in the fantastic, as imagined worlds invariably will carry elements of current ideas and modern discourses. The rising visual possibilities of video games have only added to the global transmission of images and ideas already embedded in contemporary collective and cultural memories.

This paper is an attempt to critically analyze the fictionalized traditions designed into the highly successful multiplayer video game of The Elder Scrolls Online, a game continuously in transformation since its launch in 2014, but building upon a tradition started in 1994. Despite being a highly commercialized end product it has conceptually addressed issues like racism, history politics, post-colonial restitution, slavery, gender, preservation of environment, and religious tolerance, all while obviously designed as a medievalizing realm of fantasy.

TESO, like other digital fantasies, also needs a sense of plausibility beside of the modern narrative values. An inclusive authenticity has here been created by re-utilizing and modifying contemporary concepts of national memories and characters (the in-game “races”), and their memories, heritage and identities. With millions of gamers these re-conceptualizations and re-imaginations, of whatever “heritage” can be, become highly influential as providers of an alternative “socio-mental topography of the past”, to use Eviatar Zerubavel’s concept concerning the many uses of history.


Intangible Cultural Taxonomies: Practices of Heritage Classification and their Esocultural Effects

Michael Dylan Foster (University of California, Davis)

“Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” is the English translation of a Japanese element inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018. Although inscribed as one element, “Raiho-shin” is actually an umbrella category for ten distinct traditions performed in eight different regions of the country. Based on extensive fieldwork on two of the traditions included, this paper will explore this sort of “grouping” and similar acts of classification whereby disparate local instantiations of heritage are brought together into a single metacultural category. If “heritage” itself is nothing more than a construct, how then can we understand the categorization of different “kinds” or “genres” of heritage? What cognitive and/or political principles are deployed for organizing cultures? What power dynamics are at play when UNESCO and other cultural policy bureaucracies create a metacultural landscape of heritage categories? And most importantly, how do such categories impact the way individual traditions are understood on local, esocultural levels?


Heritage, Semiotic Ideologies and Mythologization

Frog (University of Helsinki)

Heritage is commonly characterized as things linked to the past that are of relevance in the present and should be preserved for the future, and those things identified as heritage tend to be lifted from their historical complexities and controversies, streamlining accessibility to their valorized significance as heritage. When culture is understood as constituted of socially accessible signs (e.g. Urban 1991), the construction and engagements with heritage can be considered in relation to semiotic ideologies. Certain cultural sign systems and categories of signs undergo iconization as characteristic of one particular culture, group or historical phenomenon, as opposed to others, while the streamlining of accessibility to dominant frames of interpretation simplifies the semiotic field, bringing features that support dominant interpretations and contrasts into focus while inconsistencies or contradictions become subject to erasure (Irvine & Gal 2000; Stepanova, forthcoming). Consideration of semiotic ideologies offers perspectives on why certain cultural signs as opposed to others may become constructed as heritage and on the discourses that maintain them. Perspectives from semiotic ideologies are complemented by mythologization, i.e. the process whereby constructs of culture become engaged by a group as ‘the way things really are (or were).’ Rather than viewing mythology narrowly in terms of ‘stories’, I take a semiotic approach focusing on mythic discourse (i.e. mythology as it is used, communicated and manipulated in society), whereby mythology is constituted of symbols that range in complexity from simple images or motifs up to whole plots. These symbols become qualified as ‘mythic’ when they are emotionally engaged by groups in society as models for understanding the world, interpreting experience and modelling behaviour or action in a way that produces convictions. Mythologization offers a lens for exploring how objects, practices and features of nature become symbolic models of themselves, how they participate in the mythologization of the past, and they may be engaged and manipulated in the present. 


The Nation of Trees? The Heritagization of Forest Landscape in the 21st Century Finland

Heidi Haapoja-Mäkelä (University of Helsinki)

Forests are regarded as culturally and economically significant emblems of Finnishness, especially in the public. Finns have been described as having ‘a special relation to the forests and nature’, and, indeed, national identities, identity politics and society/space-relations have been constructed, expressed and renewed through representations of forest. The semi-peripheral lake-and-forest landscape has been the very core of the Finnish national imagery for over 150 years.

In our paper, we will discuss how the Finnish forest has been represented in authoritative and institutional heritagization practices such as in The Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventorying (National Heritage Agency 2016–present) and in The Inventory of the Nationally Valuable Landscape Areas (The Finnish Ministry of Environment 2010–2015).

These practices have evoked large-scale negotiations about the role of forests and nature in Finnish identity constructions. Notably, the ‘special relation to the forest’ and ‘everyman’s rights’ have been emphasized as significant hallmarks of Finnish culture. In these processes, often run by representatives of the state, the ‘primitive’ past and mythic history of the Finnish forests and their modern significances are intertwined: the heritagization of forests both mystifies the forests but also rationalizes and justifies their use. Furthermore, these processes turn the Finnish forests into ‘sites of memory’ where forests as heritage act as the materialized rendition of collective memory. In our paper, we will discuss these processes in the light of studies on heritage and banal nationalism.

Heritage and Landscape – Everywhere or Nowhere?

David C Harvey (Aarhus University)

Exploring the relationship between some-thing called ‘heritage’ and some-thing called ‘landscape’, this paper offers a review of the critical intersections between heritage and landscape. Moving beyond perceiving them as mere products or physical artefacts to be ‘preserved’, the paper emphasises a processual understanding of both heritage and landscape. Examining some existential, methodological, intellectual and contextual commonalities and trajectories, therefore, I will try to chart a way forward that involves a collaborative conversation. Drawing on some productive possibilities of telling ‘small stories’, the paper seeks a creative space in which discussion of haptic experience, ephemerality and movement can occur alongside matters of materiality and conservation practice. Critically reflecting on a series of case studies, therefore, the paper raises questions about the work that heritage and landscape does – and can do – specifically in terms of the conceptualisation of temporality, authenticity and the politics of heritage landscaping.


Landscape as Chronotope. Integrating the national past in Finnish landscape

Maunu Häyrynen (University of Turku)

Representing a nation involves both space and time. Landscape is a central vehicle of spatial representation, mediating an idea of national territory as a closed entity, of its dimensions and its internal divisions and hierarchies, all as tangible and quasi-natural phenomena. National landscape imagery invokes national time in several partly overlapping ways: as a didactic inventory of concrete proof on a national past; as a “timeless” mythological setting; as collectively sustained realms of memory; and as institutionalised landscape heritage. When attaching aspects of national past to physical and lived places it reframes them as chronotopes, merging everyday experience together with national time and creating specific spatial practices for its re-enactment. Besides national past also national future is conjured up by landscape imagery, which following Raymond Williams and Denis Cosgrove contains archaic and redundant, hegemonic and emergent symbolic elements simultaneously. Currently the representation of Finnish nature and countryside is becoming an increasingly nostalgicised as a semi-mythological or agrarian setting, repeating National Romantic pictorial models and partly institutionally framed as conservation imagery.  By contrast, modern, urban and dynamic country brand imagery is being offered as the emergent landscape of the future.


Translating or stealing? Translating Seto songs into Estonian

Andreas Kalkun (University of Helsinki and Estonian Literary Museum)

In the nineteenth century, the prevalent theory was that Setos were Estonians who had once emigrated from their homeland to escape slavery and had been Russified by the Russian Orthodox Church. Researchers of language and folklore viewed Setos as “the perfect primal Estonians” with their preserved archaic quality, which would be useful in the studies of Estonian history and folklore. Historically, the Seto singing tradition has been studied as part of Estonian folklore. Folklorists have approached Setos as kinsfolk of Estonians who are a hundred or even several hundred years behind in ‘development’, and whose folklore represents the more archaic layer of Estonian folklore. Until the mid-20th century, Setos did not take part in discussions concerning the representations of their own culture, or in the study of their culture, and rather had the role of carriers of the old tradition in the Estonian cultural scene as informants or folk singers.

Translating and adjusting are common phenomena in folklore. However, if translations are done by folklorists in a position of power and translating has ideological reasons, the whole process becomes rather suspect. I will introduce three historical cases in which Seto songs have been translated into Estonian. All three cases are clearly liminal and tilted towards cultural appropriation or exploitation – even though it is possible that the translations were made in good faith and with best intentions. The relationship between Estonian and Seto cultures has had different dynamics throughout history. The representations and publications of Seto song heritage in Estonian folkloristics reflect these changing power relations and dynamics.


Music heritagisation in Finland: anything goes?

Antti-Ville Kärjä (University of the Arts Helsinki)

With the newly opened Music Museum FAME, also known as the Finnish Music Hall of Fame, issues concerning music heritagisation have entered the headlines in Finland. Alongside the high-profile museum endeavour with massive foreign investments, official inventories of cultural heritage have grown also musically. The National Inventory of Living Heritage, sanctioned by the Ministry of Education and Culture, includes half a dozen folk or vernacular practices under the rubric “Music and Dance”, complemented by “Tango in Finland”. In the related Wiki-Inventory, maintained by the Finnish Heritage Agency, there are some two dozen phenomena more, including such fairly modern or contemporary musical practices as metal music, the demo scene and a masquerade ball for sexual minorities – not to mention gymnastics.

In my presentation, I aim at addressing the contemporary dynamics of music heritagisation in Finland, by considering such factors as repertoire and genre, regionalism and national interests, and implications towards cultural diversity and intergenerational relations. In short, at issue are the cultural politics of music heritagisation in Finland, and, as may be suspected on the basis of the inscriptions in the Wiki-Inventory of Living Heritage in particular, the flexibility and intentionality of music heritage. Instead of denying the existence of cultural heritage, I am tempted to argue – in the words of a Cole Porter song – that “anything goes”.


The Imperial Legacy of the Soviet Indigenous Heritage

Karina Lukin (University of Helsinki and University of Eastern Finland)

Endeavoring to create new, modern Soviet man together with similarly progressive culture, the Soviet Union produced extensive cultural and literary programs and campaigns that swept, often rapidly and efficiently, through the country. The festivals, traditions, poems, songs, tales created within the regime have been described with many of the terms denoting to fake, such as pseudo-folklore, folklorismus, fakelore, and F2. Rarely have Soviet creations been discussed as heritage. Moreover, there is meagre knowledge on the processes of creation, recreation, dissemination and consequences of the Soviet cultural heritage among the indigenous peoples of the North living in Russia.

In my paper, I will concentrate on the heritagization of Nenets verbal art through Nenets literature. Nenets represent one of the northern indigenous peoples of Russia for whom a literary standard and literature were created in the 1930s. Apart from staged singing and dancing performances, literature became a standard venue for representing local cultural features, such as folklore. Folklore, however, was modified in multiple ways so that it was suitable for the ideological tendencies. As a result, the texts represent hybrids typical for colonial situations: the Nenets today share literature that is justified through the Nenets verbal art although not reflecting the ontologies behind it or the performative practices related to it. My paper will discuss the process and its results as a colonial heritage typical of Russian imperial settings that differ somewhat from the conventional Western conceptualizations of colonialism or imperialism.


Constructing ‘European significance’ of cultural heritage in EU heritage policy

Tuuli Lähdesmäki (University of Jyväskylä) & Katja Mäkinen (University of Jyväskylä)

The idea of common cultural heritage in Europe is brought out in several EU resolutions, agendas and work plans for culture, and this idea has become a common element repeated in EU cultural policy discourses. Moreover, the EU has launched several initiatives aiming to foster a ‘European dimension’ or ‘European significance’ of cultural heritage. The most recent of these initiatives is the European Heritage Label. The idea of common cultural heritage faces various challenges in Europe, where narrations of history and cultural memories differ greatly and are constantly debated and disputed, and where global cultural flows and voluntary and forced movement of people within and across borders have increased the inner pluralism of the continent. Moreover, nationalist and populist debates make the discussion on common cultural heritage in Europe even more complex and politically charged. The EU’s increased interest in Europe’s past and common cultural heritage can be perceived as its attempt to tackle some of the recent challenges and crises – including the EU’s identity crisis – in Europe. How does the EU utilize the idea of common cultural heritage as a political tool? How is the ‘European significance’ of cultural heritage and the idea of Europe constructed in EU heritage policies and initiatives? The paper discusses these topics by using particularly the most recent EU heritage action, the European Heritage Label, as a case study.


Theorising Post-Conflict Heritage: The Politics of the Reconstruction of Palmyra in a Comparative Perspective

Gertjan Plets (Utrecht University)

This paper will contextualize the reconstruction efforts of Russian heritage researchers and state institutions in Palmyra, Syria. There is little doubt that the financial opportunities provided by the Kremlin for the reconstruction of the war-damaged World Heritage site can be analyzed through a soft power lens. Through the investment in bricks and mortar the Kremlin aims to construct a favorable the image of the Russia Federation in the Middle East and beyond. However, at the same time, the reconstruction efforts by archaeologists and restorers in Syria also need to be understood in relation to domestic politics.

Putin presents himself as an authoritarian leader who created a state structure with limited possibility for civil society to oppose or challenge his political decisions. This image might be popular in the West, in reality the Kremlin invests a lot of effort in cultivating support for the regime. Following the collapse of the hydrocarbon economy, increasingly culture and heritage have become instrumentalized to bolster grassroots support for both domestic and foreign policies.

The Russian involvement in Syria is increasingly coming at a greater cost. Hundreds of soldiers have died in Syria and tens of thousands of civilians are reported to have died because of Russian airstrikes and military actions. More and more Russia’s mission in Syria is linked to the Soviet failures in Afghanistan; a senseless and bloody war primarily geared at keeping a country in their sphere of influence. Opposition to the Russian involvement is, however, skilfully silenced by representing the Syrian theatre of war as a civilizing mission protecting the world against barbarism. In this framing of the war the liberation and reconstruction of Palmyra plays a central role.

Drawing on interviews conducted in Siberia in 2016–2019 and analysis of depictions of the reconstruction efforts in the Russian media this paper will study the role post-war heritage reconstruction plays on the home front. It ultimately critically interrogates the actions of Russian archaeologists and, increasingly, foreign archaeologists assisting Russian-Syrian teams, and how, through their actions, they legitimize the geopolitical and domestic policies of the Kremlin.


Exploring Memory, Heritage, and Tradition through the museum exhibition “Ingrians – Forgotten Finns”

Ulla Savolainen (University of Helsinki)

The past four decades have witnessed a booming academic and popular interest in “past presencing” (Macdonald 2013), whether conceptualized through ‘memory’, ‘heritage’, or ‘tradition’. These three notions have become widely adopted terms for describing various examples and complexes of temporal, ethical, intellectual, political, aesthetic, discursive, and material figurations of past presencing on various scales. In this presentation, my aim is to explore these three notions and their respective and partly overlapping domains through the analysis of the multimedia exhibition “Ingrians – Forgotten Finns” (Inkeriläiset – unohdetut suomalaiset). This exhibition created by Lea Pakkanen, Meeri Koutaniemi and Santeri Pakkanen is being held in The National Museum of Finland during January 24th to April 19th 2020. Combining personal narratives, photography, documents, and various memorial and testimonial objects, the exhibition explores remembering, forgetting, and silencing on personal and collective levels. Moreover, it highlights the importance of representation and public recognition of difficult pasts and calls for a more inclusive understanding of Finnishness. Ingrian Finns are descendants of people who moved to the area of Ingria, on the Gulf of Finland around the present-day city of St Petersburg, from areas of Eastern Finland and Karelia from the 17th century onward. For Ingrians, the 20th century was constituted by waves of Soviet terror as well as forced and voluntary mobilities including the so-called repatriation of Ingrian Finns to Finland between 1990 and 2016.


Postcards as heritage? An autoethnography of an arrival of a collection

Dani Schrire (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

In March 2019, we – at the Folklore Research Center at the Hebrew University – were approached by David Pearlman, a renowned London-based deltiologist (scholar and collector of postcards) who suggested to share with us his knowledge and collection of Holy Land postcards, given our prior interest in the subject. As the director of the Center I visited his home and was surprised when he suddenly announced that he came to the decision to donate his collection of Holy Land cards to our Center. This overwhelming news was shared in the following days with our academic committee, and the university administration. Given the magnitude of this donation – 200,000 postcards(!!) and an incredible documentation of 1,500 publishers of these cards – much was at stake. Different values had to be considered: the cultural value of this unique collection and its potential to yield interesting future research, the monetary value of the collection, the costs of transport, insurance and maintenance, its potential for university PR etc. 

As a folklorist and scholar of culture I was amazed by this collection, which opened up so many options, but found myself negotiating its value with different actors who did not see the collection with their own eyes and do not necessarily share my estimation of the intrinsic value of this one man’s cultural enterprise. In a nutshell, I was in a position that is all too familiar for scholars operating in a neo-liberal academia globally as costs had to be balanced with benefits. I had no intellectual problem harnessing the “f-word” (folklore), but stuttered when people in the university administration discussed the importance of this collection relying on the “h-word”. Given the contested-ness of the Holy Land and the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this collection can support different cultural narratives and it opens many possibilities for reflection, but I wasn’t going to correct the use of the h-word as I would do in the classroom teaching works by Kirshenblatt-Gimblett or Hafstein. This was no moment to say that “there is no such thing as heritage” or that heritage is only a “second life” when I really wanted the collection to arrive…

In my paper I wish to reflect on the instrumentalization of heritage not as an outsider, but as a scholar of heritage who finds himself in a situation where referring to heritage helps in the negotiation of values, in similar ways to the manner in which ethnicity becomes “ethnicity Inc.” (Comaroff and Comaroff). Furthermore, the David Pearlman Holy Land Postcard Collection and Research (which will finally arrive in the coming weeks) opens many questions as to different heritage forms postcards can support – from identity politics that engage representation to questions of practice (communication, collection). These issues will be discussed in this on-going autoethnography of cultural values in a project where I am both an outsider analyst and an insider. 


Victory Day in Estonia: heritage and folklore

Elo-Hanna Seljamaa (University of Tartu)

Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, this presentation looks at May 9 or Victory Day celebrations in the Estonian capital of Tallinn as folklore and heritage. May 9 stands in the Russian Federation and many other parts of the former USSR for Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War/World War II and is observed with stately official ceremonies. In Estonia, it is a vernacular holiday associated with Russian-speaking Soviet-era newcomers and their descendants who constitute a sizeable proportion of the capital’s and Estonia’s population. A recent survey found it to be the most divisive holiday in contemporary Estonia, challenging as it does the very logic and fundamental historical narratives that form the basis of Estonia’s restored statehood. It would be unheard of to present Victory Day as cultural heritage of local Russophones. Yet local Russian speakers use it to carve out a position for themselves in the Estonian nation-state, in the capital and vis-à-vis Russia.  

As a popular and stigmatised vernacular holiday that comes with a heavy political baggage, May 9 constitutes an intriguing case study of the ways in which the category of ‘heritage’ is used in contemporary Estonia as well as of the relationships between the categories of ‘heritage’ and ‘folklore’ as means of making sense of and constructing social reality. 


Not heritage, but the impact of heritage

Katriina Siivonen (University of Turku)

Culture is like an ever-changing stream (Ulf Hannerz 1992) which flows from person to person and from past to future intentionally and unintentionally. In the stream of culture, cultural change and resistance to change are constantly produced by human beings as tangible and intangible traditions in everyday life (see e.g. Bringéus 1976). Continuity defines traditions only partly, and they have also an implicit transformative power. Traditions constructed as cultural heritage always make an impact and promote some changes in everyday life and in the society. Thus, it is important to be as conscious as possible about the impacts of heritage as well as means to target them.

Ecological crisis, in a complex connection to global interconnectedness and mobility of people and information, and in connection to radical new technology, is a megatrend (Kiiski Kataja 2016) which indicates the great global change of the living environment of people everywhere on the Earth. In this presentation, culture and traditions are seen as a part of nature (e.g. Siivonen 2018; Willamo et al. 2017). The focus is in the aim of a conscious cultural transformation, regarded as necessary to tackle the ecological crisis.

The presentation suggests a new form of the concept of Heritage Futures, which combines 1) transformative power of culture defined as a process of anthroposemiosis (Siivonen 2008; Deely 1994), 2) human anticipatory understanding (Poli 2017), and 3) cultural heritage as a tool, which tends to engage people in an inspiring, affectual, cognitive and practical way. Heritage Futures is seen as an intentional, anticipatory, cultural tool to co-create more sustainable futures in the human-nature interface. The presentation reflects the ethical aspects of the impacts of Heritage Futures and the co-creation process of Heritage Futures to human beings and nature.


Heritage interpretation and the construction of national identitiy in the Fortress of Suomenlinna, Helsinki

Oona Simolin (University of Helsinki)

Heritage interpretation covers various informational and interactional practices through which the meanings of heritage are constructed and contested. This study examines the heritage interpretation of guided walking tours at the Fortress of Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Helsinki. As the most visited heritage site in Finland, this island group has over one million annual visitors and some 850 residents. The presentation looks at the interplay of heritage interpretation and national identity when constructing the meaning of the place for international visitors. The authorized making of heritage and history occurs through official writings such as ICOMOS and UNESCO documents, signage, and interactional guided tours. All of these echo the official narrative of Suomenlinna that divides its history into three different eras and attunes the visitor most toward the first of these eras when then-to-be Finland was under Swedish rule. Moreover, the recurring content of the guided tour includes several topics that are central in the discourses related to Finnish identity.

Through the depth of description, individual perspective-taking, and other interpretational techniques, the meaning constructed on the tours seems to intertwine with recurring Finnish national narratives and symbolic historical events. The presentation suggests that the discourses on which this interpretation relies are entangled with nationalist narratives and discourses related to the national identity. Through analysing the guided tours and participant interviews, the paper seeks to grasp how the meaning of this heritage site is derived from the discourses related to national identity, and how, on the other hand, the link between the national and the local may collapse in the context of international tourism when the discursive references are not understandable to the visitors. Moreover, the paper discusses how the constructed nature of heritage is reflected in the practice of interpretation.

Challenging the Concept of Cultural Heritage – Towards an Idea of Transcultural Heritage 

Johanna Turunen (University of Jyväskylä)

This presentation is focused on the ways conceptualizations of heritage have changed – especially in Europe. Concepts have a central role in shaping our understanding of the society around us. The concept of cultural heritage has been especially crucial in shaping the ways we define, construct and experience our social realities and our own place within societies. As societies change, concepts and their meanings transform as well.

In the European Union, heritage politics have increasingly become overlapped with political processes aimed at increasing social cohesion and a sense of belonging. Considering the founding history of heritage and the early uses of heritage and museums in building both national and colonial differences, can new conceptualizations of heritage enable us to construct a new inclusive transnational heritage community: EU citizens? In other words, what is ”Europeanness” if we construct it through a tool that is both inherently colonial and ethnocentric and at the same time centred on the idea of unique national cultures in need of protection and preservation?

This presentation builds on the acknowledgement of the need to challenge the nation-centric idea of European identity towards an understanding of heritage that emphasize transcultural connections both within and across EU member states. This is not simply a rhetorical trick to move past the “national order of things” (Malkki 1995). Rather we see transcultural connections as a way to complement and deepen the transnational approach to heritage and to include various post-migrant communities and other minorities into the European heritage narratives. By bringing the plurality of cultural identities into the debates of European heritage, we can start to deconstruct the normative relationship between nationhood and European citizenship.