CFP: Visiting the Past, Meeting the Limes

From H-Museum:

International Symposium on Heritage, Tourism, Planning and Design Practices

Visiting the Past, Meeting the Limes

Central Museum, Utrecht, the Netherlands
11-12 October 2007

Without any doubt, artefacts from ancient times are highly attractive for the tourism sector. Because of their uniqueness, archaeological sites, historical ruins, monuments, landscapes and their narratives all figure on the itineraries of tour operators and are therefore widely, if not massively, visited by tourists.

Although the interest of such a large audience has become an accepted fact and phenomenon, debates between the disciplines related to heritage on one hand and the industry of tourism on the other are becoming all the more intense, if not conflicting, as to how to interpret heritage and to integrate it socially, historically and economically in our contemporary societies. That is why Wageningen University, the University of Leuven and the Dutch Project Organization Limes, with the cooperation of GAIA-heritage, are organizing a two-day symposium entitled 'Visiting the Past, Meeting the Limes'.

The aim of the Symposium is to gather experts from a wide disciplinary background and to acquire, through presentations, discussions and workshops, a better knowledge and understanding of the multiple meanings and uses of heritage today. The various stakeholders, whether tourists, planners, local residents, archaeologists, historians, local and international entrepreneurs, or landscape and urban designers have different interpretations and make different usage of heritage. For some, it is a subject of scientific research, for others a means of livelihood, a symbol of identity, of belonging, etc.

The conference intends to explore and debate the ways in which planning and design practices can optimize meanings and uses, thereby satisfying stakeholders’ diverging interests. In addition, this event aims at producing an interdisciplinary research agenda on tourism and heritage and to create a professional network to promote further research and knowledge sharing.

The Limes
To support the theoretical, policy, and practice presentations, special attention will be granted to the archaeological remains of the Limes, the defense lines at the borders of the Roman Empire. The Limes runs from the United Kingdom, through North and Central Europe, and resumes in the Middle East and North Africa. They offer interesting contrasts across countries for the purpose of the Symposium. In the Netherlands, for example, very little is still visible; barely more than a 'landscape narrative' carefully embedded in landscape design and linked to recreational policies and place-making. By contrast to the Dutch Limes, the remains in Jordan are substantial but isolated in the desert close to the Iraqi and Syrian borders. Despite their importance, they lack proper conservation measures and adequate tourism infrastructure. In the United Kingdom, the Hadrian Wall is a top-end tourist attraction and is intentionally well integrated into the landscape.

As historical landmarks of the past and tourist sites of the present, the Limes remains highlight a wide spectrum of protection practices and valorization methods for tourism use of common heritage sites that are of a similar nature and type but located in different regional, cultural, political, economic, and scientific protection conditions and contexts. In turn, the Symposium, through the presentations, discussions and workshops, will explain the differences in meaning and consequently suggest and explore measures and methods of protection and presentation to tourism. This comparative approach will provide debate topics to understand and explore further optimal matches between tourism and heritage.

Program of the symposium
The symposium will take place over two full days. The first day will be dedicated to the plenary sessions and the second to three or four specialised workshops. Each day will be concluded by a plenary discussion in which possible research themes and other collective activities for the future are explored.

Thursday 11th October 2007
Visiting the Past: plenary lectures on context and perspectives

The first day of the symposium consists of 3 plenary sessions on the presentation of heritage from:

a) the archaeological perspective,
b) the perspective of the tourism industry and the tourists,
c) the perspective of use, spatial panning and design.

Every lecture is followed by an open discussion between a multidisciplinary forum of 6 experts (representing the fields of archaeology, tourism, sociology and planning and design) and the Symposium audience. The lectures and discussions will be synthesised and collected into a working document, which will be used as input for the workshops of the second day.

Friday 12 October 2007
Presenting the (in)visible: multi-disciplinary workshops

The second day will consist of 3 workshops and a final plenary discussion. The workshops are all related to questions concerning the conservation, (re)presentation and tourismification of the remains of the Limes. Each workshop will focus on the Limes in a different country and therefore discuss how planning and design, including for tourism, should respond the local context, state of conservation of heritage, issues of enclosure and reconstruction, and heritage awareness whether in the Netherlands or Morocco.

Call for written statements

More than a series of lectures and discussions, the Symposium aims to be interactive by promoting participants’ ideas and thoughts on the themes of heritage conservation, tourism, planning and design. We therefore strongly encourage all participants to send us a statement of 750 words maximum prior to the Symposium. These statements should be indications, suggestions or straight answers to questions outlined below. It goes without saying that a statement may contain other issues than those raised below.
The collected statements will be distributed before the start of the conference to all participants. During the workshops participants can explicitly refer to their own statements or that of others’, clarify or discuss these ideas and use them to comment on the presented lectures or case-studies.
The collected statements will be summarized in the proceedings, with ample reference to the authors. They will serve as a stepping stone to structure the research and international cooperation agenda. The authors of selected statements will then be asked to elaborate them into full research papers for a specialized publication.

The statements must be sent to the organizers at before September 22, 2007.
The suggested questions are:
1. In your opinion, what is the main challenge for the careful integration between heritage conservation, local and regional identity and the development of tourist sites?
2. According to you, is it better to combine multiple heritage meanings (expert, local, dedicated and superficial visitors) in every tourist project/site or to push for the
specialisation and differentiation among sites according to particular interests (uniqueness,place identity, tourist product opportunities, etc.)?
3. How can planning and spatial design be used to embed a tourist heritage site within the wider spatial, institutional, multifunctional, socio-cultural and symbolic context?
4. Can landscaping and design contribute to the experiential and narrative qualities of tourist heritage sites and, if so, how?
5. In keywords: what do you consider to be the three most important research issues in the relationship between heritage conservation, tourism promotion and local/regional identity?

Central Museum Utrecht

Registration is now open and so until the 1st of September 2007.
Included in the Registration fee: participation in sessions, colloquium documentation, lunches, dinner.

Registration form
You can download the registration form here in Word format or PDF format ( and send it to us by e-mail.

For additional information please contact:
Dr. Marlies van Hal
Socio-Spatial Analysis Group
Wageningen University
Tel: 0031 317 785092

Doevendaalsesteeg 3
GAIA building (building number 101)
P.O. Box 47
6700 AA Wageningen
The Netherlands



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