Call for Papers: WITH/OUT IDENTITY. On the Question of Identity Constructions in Spaces, Heritage and Communities

7th Annual Meeting of the DFG Research Training Group “Identity and Heritage”
23.-24. November 2023, Bauhaus-University Weimar (Germany)
Deadline CFP: 1 June 2023

The concept of identity is undergoing critical reinterpretations in several disciplines and is presently even being opposed by diverse viewpoints due to its vagueness and a problematic tendency towards essentialisation. At the same time, alternatives to the concepts of identity and identity formation create an important frame of reference, especially for those communities that are denied the possibility of articulating history, memory and bodies of knowledge themselves. The construction of spaces and cultural heritage therefore plays a crucial role, as identity is appropriated, negotiated or asserted in social, political and thus also physical spaces.

In this sense, the 7th annual conference of the Research Training Group understands the concept of identity first as a white canvas, where meaning can be ascribed to the collective processes in which spatial and material cultural heritage becomes important for the imagination of commonalities and for the constitution of groups and communities. The increasing critique to the concept of identity in particular suggests a special focus on the role of alterity and Difference when considering underlying processes. For a critical examination of identity constructions, the conference aims to highlight current and socio-political discourses on heritage and space from the perspective of various disciplines:

In architectural and urban research, topics such as authoritarian discourses and right-wing structures, visibility and decolonisation, structural inequalities and agency are at the centre of numerous debates. This is also closely linked to the current discourses on cultural heritage, for example with regard to identity constructions and appropriation or attribution processes of different heritage communities, or in relation to conflictual disputes about the power of interpretation and the claim to cultural heritage. In addition to attributions of meaning, material and spatial settings are also focal elements in the field of monument preservation, whereby reconstructions and concepts of authenticity with claims to “identity” are particularly controversial. Last but not least, museums and their collections, which as historical spaces are significantly involved in the memory culture of communities and the construction of power-asymmetrical narratives, are also being critically discussed. Coming to terms with contexts of injustice and the associated clarification of ownership of heritage have increasingly become a crucial task of museums, this is also evident in the disputes over restitution issues.

Against this background, in the context of the conference we ask: How is the term “identity” interpreted and applied in different contexts and power constellations? How is identity anchored in relation to buildings, urban spaces, public squares or landscapes? Which understanding of identity occurs in empowerment processes, which occur in hegemonic or authoritative processes? Current references to the global climate crisis and the question of shaping the future as well as identity constructions hidden behind them form a special focus. Are these constructions necessary or dispensable and what does a critical approach to the ever-changing concept of “identity” look like?

Within these questions, we are looking for different perspectives from architecture, heritage, art, cultural and social sciences. We call for contributions that critically engage with the theme of “identity” and aim for an active exchange among participants. Contributions from current research projects, concrete field research results and theoretical approaches from different disciplines are welcome. The following topics are welcome:

Questions of ownership and availability of cultural heritage – attributions of meaning and politics of memory – reconfiguration processes in diasporic communities and colonial subjects – heritage communities in the face of climate crisis, destruction, violence and power asymmetries – resistance and empowerment processes – repurposing, occupation, appropriation and gentrification of cultural heritage – debates on repatriation, restitution and reparation

The contributions should not exceed a speaking time of 20 minutes. Abstracts (max. 300 words) and CVs are requested by 01 June 2023 by email to: Speakers will be informed about their inclusion in the programme by 1 July 2023. It is planned to publish the contributions in the publication series of the Research Training Group. The submitted proposals must therefore not have been published elsewhere and must demonstrate an original contribution to the topic of the call. The deadline for the submission of papers or lecture manuscripts is 20 December 2023. The conference languages are German and English. Limited travel allowances may be granted.

7-th Annual Meeting, Research Group „Identity and Heritage“
Bauhaus-University (23/11-24/11 2023)
Deadline CfP: 01/06 2023