“Censored? Conflicted Concepts of Cultural Heritage” (Fifth Annual Conference)

25.-26. November 2021, Bauhaus University Weimar

In recent years, the terms ‘cancel culture,’ ‘political correctness,’ ‘call-out culture,’ and ‘censorship’ have dominated debates about freedom of speech and scientific research, discussions about memorial sites and the removals of monuments as well as critiques of museum exhibition practices. During the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, England, and Belgium, protesters were faced with allegations of censorship, moralism, and iconoclasm after monuments to Confederate generals and slave traders became a central focus of the protests. Similar accusations had already begun circulating in 2018, as the #MeToo movement triggered a critical reassessment of artworks on public display, and several exhibitions worldwide were closed, postponed, or had individual exhibits removed.

The concept of censorship can be filled with very different meanings and appropriated by different interest groups. In the narrow sense, it describes only the structural and state-defined form of information control. In contemporary cultural debates, however, censorship is understood much more broadly as a discursive instrument used in different forms of social negotiation (e.g., regulation, moderation, boundary shifting, repression) in dealing with cultural heritage.

Heritage processes are negotiation processes, because the handling and interpretation of a collectively shared heritage is permanently contested. In the process, there are omissions, rewritings, or additions; not only of what constitutes a heritage object but also its social construction. Dissent and conflict are constitutional elements of this negotiation of material and intangible constructions of heritage and identity. By reinvestigating such heritage constructions through the concept of censorship, it offers the possibility to look at what is positively established as heritage or identity. On the other hand, this perspective also directs the focus to what is considered negative, or undesirable, what is suppressed, excluded, rejected or prevented.

The fifth annual conference of the DFG Research Training Group 2227 “Identity and Heritage” aims to contribute to the understanding and historization of censorship debates, the contexts out of which they arose, their dissemination, and the actors involved. Patterns of argumentation and perception associated with the censorship debates are examined from the perspective of the history of discourse, conflict, media and theory.

Conference Location

Bauhaus-University Weimar
Library Building, Steubenstr. 6 (Audimax)

Join our digital conference via Livestream (Zoom)


25. November 2021

Welcome and Introduction

Panel I: Identity and Heritage: Censorship Debates as a Constitutive Element (Moderation: Svenja Hönig, Berlin)

Arnold Bartetzky (Leipzig)
Zensur von unten? Aktuelle Auseinandersetzungen um unbequeme Denkmäler und umstrittene Kunstwerke

Rachel Györffy (Budapest)
Zwischen Ikonoklasmus und Nostalgie: Rekonstruktivismus in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Kuratorische Praxis, Cancel Culture oder Musealisierung? Eine Annäherung

Klara Ullmannova (Prague)
›Post-war‹ Architecture in Czechia as Heritage. Present-day Discourses

Lunch break

Panel II: Discourse and Differentiation: A Long-Term Perspective on the Concept of Censorship (Moderation: Oliver Trepte, Weimar)

14:20 Lukas Rathjen (Zurich)
Nachkriegsverschiebungen. Humanistische Rhetorik zwischen Erbe und Zensur

15:00 Anatol Rykov (St. Petersburg)
Censorship and Global Art Theory

15:40 Natalie Reinsch (Hannover)
»… der gnädige Schleier des Vergessens …«. Der Zensurstreit zwischen Horst Brandstätter und der Stadt Stuttgart im Jahr 1987 als Aushandlungsprozess um das mit der Person Hanns Martin Schleyer verschränkte Erbe des Linksterrorismus und des Nationalsozialismus

Conclusion Day 1

26. November 2021

Come together and Introduction

Panel III: Power to Interpret and Dissent: Conflicting Heritage Constructs (Moderation: Zvi Efrat, Tel Aviv)

Friederike Landau-Donnelly (Nijmegen)
Ghostly Heritage: Exploring Conflictual Sense(s) of Place in Vancouver’s Chinatown

Anna Angelica Ainio (London)
Leave Them as They Are: The Disfigurement of Robert E. Lee Monument

Nasima Islam (Calcutta)
Formation of the ›Miya‹: Examining how censored identities are talking back in the Indian state of Assam

Lunch break

Panel IV: Situation and Preservation: Institutional Practices (Moderation: Darja Jesse, Berlin)

14:00 Patricia Lenz (Zurich)
After »Freedom of Expression?« – Japanese Artists Caught Between Nationalism and Pre-Emptive Obedience

Irakli Khvadagiani (Tiflis)
Owning the Past – to Control the Present. Post Soviet Know-how in Georgia

Coffee break

Panel discussion: Censorship and Public Spaces in Times of Monument Removals (Moderation: Jochen Kibel, Berlin)

with Kristina Leko (Berlin), Nnenna Onuoha (Harvard/Potsdam), Niloufar Tajeri (Braunschweig)

17:30 Conclusion Day 2


COVID-19 Protection Concept

The Infection Protection Act (Bauhaus-University, valid on 28/10/2021) provides for the conference room (Audimax) to be occupied by a maximum of 45 participants. The conference will be held in accordance with the 3G+ rules and the Rahmenhygieneplan der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar (PDF, german).

All Lectures in detail



10:40 AM

Arnold Bartetzky (Leipzig): Bottom-up Censorship? Current disputes about dissonant monuments and controversial works of art

Arnold Bartetzky



11:20 AM

Rachel Győrffy (Budapest): Between Iconoclasm and Nostalgia. Reconstructivism in Central and Eastern Europe. Curatorial Practice, Cancel Culture or Museumization? An Approach

Rachel Győrffy



14:20 PM

Lukas Rathjen (Zürich): Postwar Shifts. Humanist rhetoric between heritage and censorship

Lukas Rathjen



15:40 PM

Natalie Reinsch (Hannover): “... the merciful veil of oblivion ...”. The censorship dispute between Horst Brandstätter and the city of Stuttgart in 1987 as a negotiation process around the legacy of left-wing terrorism and National Socialism intertwined with the person of Hanns Martin Schleyer

Natalie Reinsch



11:40 AM

Nasima Islam (Calcutta): Formation of the ‘Miya’: Examining how censored identities are talking back in the Indian state of Assam

Nasima Islam



14:00 PM

Patricia Lenz (Zürich): "After 'Freedom of Expression?'" Japanese Artists Caught between Nationalism and Preemptive Obedience.

Patricia Lenz



16:00 PM

Panel discussion (Moderation: Jochen Kibel, Berlin) mit Kristina Leko (Berlin), Nnenna Onuoha (Harvard/Potsdam) und Niloufar Tajeri (Braunschweig): Censorship and Public Spaces in Times of Monument Removals