During the last three years, two laboratories of excellence—The pasts in the present and Material heritage (Patrima) have developed cooperative linkages pertaining to contemporary issues of research on heritage(s). They have done it on the basis of content and research tools that renew the approaches, facilitating common research practices with cultural heritage institutions.
Along with the executive management for heritages from the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the French National Library, these clusters of excellent support a decidedly interdisciplinary conference project. Unifying all the clusters of excellence working in the heritage field, this event brings together actors from research and cultural heritage. It seeks to present research in progress and propose avenues for future research.
Cultural heritage in the 21st century: what is its relationship with the past?
A portmanteau word lacking differentiation, heritage has become dissociated from its relationship to the past. Investigating the modes of representing the past in the processes of patrimonialization, conservation, collection, and mediation, it is first about rethinking heritage as an engagement with the past and the future. The conference approaches the question from the perspective of heritage’s status, between a process of individuation and a process of socialization, and it examines the effects of heritage and of its mediation, both in terms of individual subjectivities as well as their relationships with social representations. The study of social, cultural, even political appropriations of heritage must eventually allow for questioning it a priori according to which there exists today an accrued interest for the past and to ask oneself if heritage makes society.
Tangibility, intangibility, dematerialization
The conference highlights the tangibility of artefacts (archives, collections, archeological sites, monuments), the anthropological dimension of their conservation, and the questions raise about their topicality and physical dimension. It presents research advances in the material study of heritage and shows the means by which the experimental sciences, humanities, social sciences, information sciences, and communication sciences mutually cross-pollinate. The effects of the development of intangible heritage and its relation to tangible heritage are also examined. Furthermore, the conference amply treats anthropological, social, and epistemology issues of virtual heritage (digitize or native digital and accessible online), as well as its uses. In the context of the globalized movement of data and knowledge, it reports on cutting-edge research in the domain of the semantic web.
Being constructed on structural partnerships with heritage institutions, clusters of excellence with a cultural dimension are the veritable crucible of often innovative original research experiences. The conference offers to present the main institutional and methodological developments, the potential stumbling blocks, and to chart the course for the years to come.
Public-facing, the conference “Heritages in search of the future” offers to open a public debate, over two days, at the intersection of research, politics, and cultural practices.
The conclusions of the conference are available to download below (French).