CfP: Heritage Studies and Socialism: Transnational Perspectives on Heritage in Eastern and Central Europe

Heritage Studies and Socialism: Transnational Perspectives on Heritage in Eastern and Central Europe

Date: 24-25 of November 2016 . Location: Marburg/Gießen

In the last decade, heritage studies have emerged as a field of cross-disciplinary research covering the topics including the built environment, museums and collections, urban planning, memory, and tourism. Though dealing with objects and practices of the past, heritage studies are rather concerned with the relation of heritage to the present and its role in the future. Temporality is thus central to the understanding of heritage, which is not limited to the present-day and is increasingly explored from a historical perspective. Research on notions and practices of heritage in the past can shed light on the formation of today’s heritage practices and policies; but it might also uncover the selection and dissension affecting what was to be preserved for the future.

In the international field of heritage studies, however, research on Eastern and Central Europe still remains marginal. This is not only due to regional interests, but may also be due to the current scholarship’s prevalent concept of heritage being drawn predominantly from Western European and postcolonial contexts. The workshop “Heritage Studies and Socialism” will bring together both early career researchers and established researchers for a discussion about the concept of heritage in relation to the Eastern and Central European region. In light of the different traditions in heritage policies and property rights, what notion of heritage do we employ for the study of heritage in socialist and post-socialist societies? Using this question as a point of departure, we seek to critically engage with the field of heritage studies and will reflect on core concepts of heritage studies such as authenticity and originality. We will discuss the advantages and limitations of these approaches when applied to the (post-) socialist context, while also bringing together alter- native approaches from the examples presented during the workshop.

The workshop will focus on heritage concepts and practices under socialism following World War II, but it also welcomes contributions highlighting trajectories in the early Soviet Union and in the post-socialist period. In order to allow for common ground in the discussion, we particularly welcome contributions that transcend the framework of the nation-state by looking at local, regional and transnational levels. The presentations will be framed by input speeches from established scholars in the field.

Possible issues addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Socialist interpretations of heritage and authenticity of heritage

  • Heritage and socialism in multi-ethnic contexts and minority politics

  • State atheism and religious heritage

  • Urban planning: heritage and the socialist city

  • Heritage and socialist modernisms

  • Relation between cultural and natural heritage under socialism

  • Heritage tourism in planned economies and socialist consumer culture

  • Impact of political changes on heritage

  • Heritage and communist internationalism, including extra-European relations

  • International organisations (ICOMOS, Working group of socialist countries on restoration, etc.)

Please send your abstract of no more than 300 words with a short biographical note by 15 June 2016, to the organisers at:

The workshop is organised by the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe in Marburg, in cooperation with the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC), University of Giessen, and the Imre-Kertész-Kolleg at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena


Dr. Eszter Gantner (Marburg)

Corinne Geering M.A. (Gießen)

Dr. Paul Vickers (Gießen)



Yujie Zhu