Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World'

Travelling Pasts: The Politics of Cultural Heritage in the Indian Ocean World'

Burkhard Schnepel (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Halle an der Saale
From - Until
18.05.2017 - 19.05.2017
Bettina Mann

“Heritage”, as Kirshenblatt-Gimblett argues, “produces something new in the present that has recourse to the past.” This perspective nicely fits with one main aim of this conference, namely to bring historiographical studies on heritage into a fruitful dialogue with those studies that look at the (ab)uses of the past for contemporary life – in short, at the politics of heritage in contemporary societies.

While heritage studies and conferences on heritage issues abound these days, justifiably reflecting the importance that heritage plays today, heritage in the Indian Ocean World is seldom addressed as such. Yet, looking at this macro-region will provide some specific insights. In the Indian Ocean world, with its long history of migrations and maritime exchanges, the pasts which people encounter, remember, imagine, glorify, celebrate, perform, politicize and commercialize (as in tourism), but sometimes also seek to forget and overcome, often have their origins and continuing roots elsewhere. These pasts, then, travelled not only through time but through space as well. They have travelled the seas and have (had) to be translated into, and adapted for, new geographical, socio-cultural, economic and political settings.

On the one hand, then, the material and intangible manifestations of heritage which specific individuals, communities and nations of the Indian Ocean world encounter in their daily lives or which they experience in special commemorative events are not their own; they explicitly belong to another neighbouring group, or they are colonial in origin, pointing to a past which one competes with, seeks to nostrify, or strives to forget. On the other hand, one’s own cherished past, and material as well as ideational markers of it, do not stem from the place in which one lives now. In these cases, the past is not just a foreign country, to paraphrase a much-used saying, but it is in and has travelled from a foreign country.

This conference seeks to address manifestations of cultural heritage and the politics of heritage-ization in the Indian Ocean world, especially in port cities and littoral societies, which dynamically connect people to their distant pasts of and in a place in which they no longer live, or which force people to encounter and deal with a past (and heritage) which is not their own. Within the intellectual aims of the Max Planck Fellowship program on “Connectivity in Motion", special emphasis will be given to the particular mobilities, performative modes, political uses and economic benefits in which these temporal and at the same time spatial translations of the “there and then” into a “here and now” take place or took place. (The conference seeks to include studies of those uses of the past for contemporary purposes which were lying in the past.)


Thursday, 18th May 2017
9.00 – 9.30 Registration
9.30 – 9.45 Welcome Address by Chris Hann, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
9.45 – 10.00 Welcome, Introducing the Participants, Organisational Matters by the Organiser

Chair: Michael R.N. Jansen
10.00 – 10.45 Burkhard Schnepel (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Saale): Uses and Abuses? Introduction into the conference theme

Chair: Gita Dharampal-Frick
11.15 – 12.00 Gwyn Campbell (McGill University, Indian Ocean World Centre, Montreal): Black or White? The Indian Ocean World context for the racial politics of cultural heritage in Madagascar

12.00 – 12.45 Vijaya Teelock (University of Mauritius, Reduit): The Anatomy of World Heritage Sites in Mauritius: The interplay of politics, memory and cultural competition

Chair: Tobias Holzlehner
14.15 – 15.00 Abdul Sheriff
(University of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute (formerly), Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar): Contradiction in the Heritagisation of Zanzibar ‘Stone Town’

15.00 – 15.45 Pamila Gupta (University of Witwaterstrand, Johannesburg): Door, Shutter, Balcony: Ornate heritage making in Stone Town (Zanzibar)

15.45 – 16.15 Coffee Break

Chair: Eva Maria Knoll
16.15 – 17.00 Iain Walker (ZIRS, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Saale)): Somebody Else’s Heritage? How to be Mahorais without being Comorian

17.00 – 17.45 Ulrike Freitag (Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin): History of the Hajj: Asset or burden to the Saudi national state?

19.00 – 20.00 Dinner at restaurant ‘Wenzel Prager Bierstuben’
20.00 – 21.30 Wrap-up and discussion

Friday, 19th May 2017

Chair: Jean-Claude Galey
9.15 – 10.00 Markus Verne (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz): Travelling Sounds: Aesthetic reconstructions of Madagascar’s Asian heritage

10.00 – 10.45 Katja Müller and Boris Wille (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Saale): Materiality and Mobility: Comparative notes on heritagisation in the Indian Ocean World

Chair: Tansen Sen
11.15 – 12.00 Christoph Brumann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Saale): Global Linkages, Connectivity and the Indian Ocean in the UNESCO World Heritage Arena

12.00 – 12.45 Nigel Worden (University of Cape Town, Cape Town): Ambiguous Pasts: The Indian Ocean World in Cape Town’s public history

Chair: Gwyn Campbell
14.15 – 15.00 Mai Lin Tjoa-Bonatz (Independent Scholar, Berlin): Whose Heritage? Contested ownership about maritime war memorials and historic wrecks in Southeast Asia

15.00 – 15.45 Mareike Pampus (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Saale): Heritage Food: The materialisation of connectivity in Nyonya cooking

Chair: Hermann Kulke
16.15 – 17.00 Tamara Chin (Brown University, Providence): ‘One Belt, One Road’: China and the Indian Ocean World

17.00 – 17.45 Tansen Sen (City University, New York): Temple Heritage of a Chinese Migrant Community: Movement, connectivity, and identity in the Maritime World

19.00 – 20.00 Dinner at restaurant ‘Haus & Hof’
20.00 – 21.30 Final Discussion: Conference Theme, Future Collaboration and Publication

Contact (announcement)

Bettina Mann
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, D-06114 Halle/Saale
Telefon: +49 (0) 345-2927-501
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