Anthropologists, as well as cultural geographers and sociologists, have assembled a considerable body of ethnographic work on cultural heritage. through methods such as participant observation, interviews, and multi-sited research, they have investigated how people live with heritage and how heritage institutions, professionals, and interpreters go about their daily business. They have been
particularly interested in the articulation of conscious self-representation and not-so-conscious everyday practices, including the resistant and subversive ones. Yet more than anything else perhaps, they have documented the sheer variety of voices and interests surrounding heritage: professional heritage managers, custodians, spokespeople, owners, practitioners and all those who are affected by, or hope to profit from, heritage and heritage policies in one way or another. Ethnography therefore allows for richer analysis, detailed narratives, and deeper probing of heritage matters, both of the celebratory discourse of official institutions and of those very critical analyses in the social sciences and humanities that take the exclusionary and exploitative effects of heritage for granted.
In this panel, we wish to take stock of the ethnographic approach to heritage. What is to be gained by ethnographic research that cannot be achieved through other methods, and further, where are its limitations? In which specific ways is ethnographic research combined with other methods, and which combinations are most productive? In research settings, how do heritage ethnographers position themselves vis-à-vis researchers trained in other academic disciplines, and furthermore as 'experts,' when any pronouncement on heritage and its effects will impact communities, stakeholders, and laypeople deeply committed to the heritage in question? We invite contributions grounded in ethnographic experience in heritage research, but also broader reviews of the field and its methodological, political and moral aspects.
Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted by January 31st to both session organizers: Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Christoph Brumann (email@example.com).
Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
North Dakota State University
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