Heritage policies and practises continue to be anchored in an identity paradigm that entails a view of the world as a mosaic of located cultures, with discrete collective pasts, now to be disturbed by globalisation.
For up to a generation ago, the Norwegian heritage sector related to population groups with largely shared concepts of their historical roots. Today, a growing number of citizens are presented in heritage discourses as situated ‘outside’ the predominant national storyline.
Communication between people situated in different parts of the world has never been easier, and processes of identity increasingly transcend territorial boundaries. Meanwhile, the destabilisation of national narratives seems also to be accompanied by an increasing emphasis on the local, and on cultural heritage as providing authentic local identities and emotional attachments to place. The recognition of frictions between established narratives and a changing demographic and social context has induced a search for new strategies of inclusion and diversity, and for alternative representational forms.
With long-term perspectives and insights into the dynamics of migration, meetings and transformation readily available, can heritage disciplines provide stories that are relevant and challenging across contemporary social boundaries? Can heritage institutions serve as arenas for the navigation of perennial questions of identity and belonging, by stimulating critical reflection and dialogue on constructions of human difference relating to the past?
Our aim is to explore these questions, both through academic dialogue and interaction with a wider public, and by facilitating meetings and discussions between institutions, policy-makers and interest groups.