Cultural Heritage as a Resource? European Perspectives: Manchester and Hannover

Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester Metropolitan University (MCPHH, MMU); Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Leibniz University Hannover (IDD, LUH)
11.02.2019 - 12.02.2019
Jana Stoklasa, Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Leibniz University Hannover; Katarzyna Kajdanek, Sociological Institute, University Wrocław

In the last years, we have observed the increase of cultural heritage as a concept producing tangible and intangible representations to value systems – bridging between the past and the future. In the symposium, 17 researchers from different disciplines explored in six panels the role cultural heritage plays in identity negotiations forming local, national and global issues.[1] In counter-culture to the current Brexit policies, the two-day workshop represents the starting point of a German-British cooperation in the field of critical cultural heritage studies. The envisioned bilateral research project will be implemented by members of the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage (MCPHH) and the interdisciplinary research project “Cultural heritage as a resource? Competing constructions, strategic usages and multiple adoptions during the 21st century” (CHER).[2]

Following the introductions of the directors SAM EDWARDS (Manchester) and DETLEF SCHMIECHEN-ACKERMANN (Hannover), the first panel of the workshop featured „The Politics of Cultural Heritage”. As first speaker, LUCA CSEPELY-KNORR (MCPHH, Manchester) showed how commemoration of ideologically and socially significant events are inseparable from civic education. In her talk, Csepely-Knorr depicted the development of public parks with the Hungarian example of the Gellért Hill in Budapest and showed how changes in spatial planning and commemorating serve as an effective method of ideology-driven narrations.

Sam Edwards pointed in his presentation to the intriguing dualism in politics of memory over the last 100 years. He analysed the increasing emergence of ‘virtual’ memorials as aesthetics of cyber-commemoration and the simultaneous investment in physical sites of memory. As Edwards argued, three phases outlined the century from 1918-2018: the period after 1918, when memorials with names of the lost emerged as a sign of modernity; the period after 1982, when the new aesthetics were deprived of didactic function; and today when cyber-commemoration is pronounced. Edwards highlighted that new groups like veterans gain power in the field of memory politics while the state still remains in charge of commemoration, although its power is loosening.

SANDRA BENDLER (CHER, Hannover) convincingly analysed the importance of youth education for the globalising future. Bendler discussed how in this emerging field the new group takes over the role of legitimising politics of memory. In her project, the researcher examines different dimensions of interest, knowledge and attitudes towards world cultural heritage at three different measurement points. Bendler’s evaluation data on cultural heritage show that students know very little about world cultural heritage, but display a lot of interest especially towards tangible heritage.

The second panel focused on „Cultural Heritage and the City: Planning and Policy”. EAMONN CANIFFE (MCPHH, Manchester) concentrated on the micro-world in the Northern Quarter in Manchester which is undergoing an immense transformation resulting from both emergency demolitions of heritage assets and proposals for large-scale commercial developments. Caniffe presented a strategy for sustainable development drawn up with students from the Manchester School of Architecture. The strategy focuses on making community spaces greener and more open to various categories of users.

CHRISTINE SCHOENMAKERS and JANA STOKLASA (both CHER, Hannover) talked in a comparative perspective on cultural valorisation strategies and negotiations of the (national) socialist past in Berlin and Wrocław. Since the fall of communism, both urban spaces experienced rapid transformations in order to handle the difficult past as well as for their promotion on the global neoliberal market. The speakers identified intersections and dissonances in the ways of communicating the urban heritage of both European cities and revealed how these practices help in the mourning of tragic experiences of 20th Century as an age of extremes.

KATARZYNA KAJDANEK (Wrocław, which held the title of European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2016) presented the case of the opening ceremony of ECoC as a mega-event in urban public space that drew on the themes of local history, identity and their symbolic meanings. The event turned out to be an organisational failure, although according to Kajdanek, in the long run it might inspire a new narrative regarding place-related identity.

The third panel was titled „Communities of Heritage” and started with MICHALA HULME’s (MCPHH, Manchester) presentation on how DNA tests concerning ancestry serve as a tool for engagement of individuals and communities in research on their history. Although the tests are still being developed to ensure higher reliability, Hulme demonstrated their function to transform common understandings of ancestry implementing the category of race. JENNY HAGEMANN (CHER, Hannover) showed in a comparative perspective what it means to be ‘Wendish’. Hagemann analysed the example of Sorbian and Wendish identities as part of cultural heritage in the Hanoverian Wendland and Lusatia. Her focus on the construction and establishment of the phenomenon of „regional identity” revealed how traces of the past in architecture, the role of Christianisation, of persecutions during Nazi regime and also anti-nuclear movement are used in contemporary negotiations on individual and collective self-images.

In the fourth panel, the speakers discussed the role of associations and clubs as components of cultural heritage. CRAIG HORNER (MCPHH, Manchester) offered an intriguing historical overview of the first cycling and motoring clubs in the UK. According to the speaker, these clubs emerged in part for self-protection against a hostile wider public, thus, this process revealed tensions and frictions between the old (horse) and the new (bike and motorbike) world. DAVE DAY (MCPHH, Manchester) talked on patrimonial dynamics and sports coaching in Great Britain. Day convincingly underlined the amateur ethos that is used for prestige and marginalising other interested social groups as opposed to the hegemonic version of appropriate sporting behaviour. Day also pointed to the recent changes in British sports following government intervention, which represented a critical shift from the influence of patrimonial elite to a late 20th century bureaucracy. The role of associations in the (re-)production of cultural heritage was also described by RAIMUND LAZAR and DEBORAH SIELERT (both CHER, Hannover) with examples of football clubs and allotment associations in Germany. In the case of allotment associations, Lazar observed ethnic formations and articulations of a real or imagined community. The speakers highlighted middle class football clubs as an arena serving everyday practices of „petite bourgeoisie”. From a sociological theory perspective Sielert reconstructed the unifying and distinctive function of associations as actors valuating the role of class, ethnicity and gender.

The fifth panel was dedicated to „Decolonizing Heritage”. The speakers SHIRIN HIRSCH (MCPHH, Manchester) and MALTE KLEINSCHMIDT (CHER, Hannover) demonstrated changes in local and global aspects of decolonisation policy. Hirsch talked about race, class and a local Manchester pub, uncovering its own history as being part of the so called ‘colour bar’, an informal act or practice prohibiting members of the Black Community to enter ‘white’ pubs, and the successful resistance to it in 1953. Initiating her pilot heritage project, Hirsch envisions colonial Britain and the multicultural working class as collective memories of post war Manchester. Kleinschmidt presented results of his study on students’ ideas and concepts on globalisation from a decolonial perspective. His talk underlined how to gain better understanding of how people adopt, reproduce, undermine or resist post- and neo-colonial hierarchies and concepts. As an educational researcher, Kleinschmidt attempts to destabilise the hegemonic view trivialising or silencing the postcolonial heritage in the German context.

In the final panel „Identity and Cultural Heritage: Local, National and Global Perspectives” BEN EDWARDS (MCPHH, Manchester) and ANETTE SPRUNG (University of Graz) provided some insights into how various internal and external views on identity and cultural heritage may cross and interact. Edwards emphasised the archaeological site of Bryn Celli Ddu as a Welsh heritage and landscape project. Our view of the neolithic passage graves on Anglesey, dating to circa 3000 BC, result from reconstruction following the original excavation; thus it is not a wholly accurate view. Using a critical perspective, the last presentation by Sprung showed how in Austria political concepts of integration form an unspoken agenda for integration courses and in particular for so called value courses that address refugees planning to take the Austrian citizenship. Sprung’s research results reflect how, under state control, a sense of belonging is created here through the pressure to assimilate and how values are emphasised without further explanation.

Through the course of the symposium, the cultural heritage concept was examined under various disciplinary approaches – historical, educational, sociological, social science, archaeological and political. Closely referring to the functional socioeconomic dimension of cultural heritage as a result of constantly evolving complex historical processes, the talks on different formation cases allowed for reflection on the products or conditions of their structural tendencies. The presented common questions of heritage in constructions of local, national and global identities – illustrated in many examples at the Manchester symposium – will be further refined in a British-German perspective during the second workshop in autumn 2019 in Hannover, Germany.

Conference overview:

Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann (Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover) / Sam Edwards (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Welcome and Introduction

Panel 1: The Politics of Cultural Heritage

Luca Csepely-Knorr (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Education and Commemoration in Public Parks

Sam Edwards (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): The Politics of Memory: 1918-2018

Sandra Bendler (Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover): World Cultural Heritage from the Perspective of Young People

Panel 2: Cultural Heritage and the City: Planning and Policy

Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Undoing Urbanism: Revisioning the Heritage of Manchester’s Northern Quarter

Jana Stoklasa / Christine Schoenmakers (both Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover): Cultural Valorisation Strategies of Historic Traditions and Remains: Negotiating the (Socialist) Past in Berlin and Wrocław

Katarzyna Kajdanek (Sociological Institute, Wrocław): Deindividuation as an Urge for Urban-Related Identity. On the Meaning of Participation in Urban Cultural Mega Events on the Example of the Opening Ceremony of ECoC Wrocław 2016

Panel 3: Communities of Heritage

Michala Hulme (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Seven Percent British: Using Ancestry DNA to Engage the Community in Historical Research

Jenny Hagemann (Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover): Being Wendish: Sorbian and Wendish Identitites as Part of the Cultural Heritage in Hannoverian Wendland and Lusatia

Panel 4: Associations and Clubs as Components of Cultural Heritage

Craig Horner (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): The First Cycling and Motoring Clubs: A Case Study in Cultural Heritage

Dave Day (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Patrimonial Dynamics and Sports Coaching in Britain: A Century of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Raimund Lazar / Deborah Sielert (both Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover): The Role of Associations in the (Re)Production of Cultural Heritage

Panel 5: Decolonizing Heritage

Shirin Hirsch (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Pubs, Class and a Local Manchester Pub: A New Heritage Project

Malte Kleinschmidt (Institute of Didactics of Democracy, Hannover): Postcolonial Heritage in Learners’ Ideas on Globalization

Panel 6: Identity and Cultural Heritage: Local, National and Global Perspectives

Ben Edwards (Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage, Manchester): Bryn Celli Ddu and Welsh Heritage

Anette Sprung (Institute for Educational Science, Graz): Learning ‘Cultural Heritage’? Critical Views on Integration Courses for Immigrants

[1] See (08.04.2019).
[2] See;L=1 (08.04.2019).

Tagungsbericht: Cultural Heritage as a Resource? European Perspectives: Manchester and Hannover, 11.02.2019 – 12.02.2019 Manchester, in: H-Soz-Kult, 02.05.2019, <>.