CFP/Publication: Heritage and Practices of Public Formation

HERITAGE AND PRACTICES OF PUBLIC FORMATION: A Special Issue of the International Journal of Heritage Studies

The International Journal of Heritage Studies invites submissions for a special theme issue devoted to a critical consideration of the implications of heritage practices in regard to the re-articulation of existing publics and the formation of new ones.

Those who think heritage is only about the past have got it wrong. Practices of heritage are always about the future. Such practices are inherently implicated in enduring questions regarding the viable substance of social life, questions which include the problem of human connection across historically structured differences of time and place. Heritage practices present an arena of social participation. They not only offer meanings and affect that help consolidate exiting social solidarities, but they also offer the possibility of new connections among diverse people, connections essential for the continual renewal of democratic life and the attainment of environmental sustainability in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.
This issue of IJHS will be devoted to discussions of heritage practice that move beyond the notion of a public as an identifiable pre-existing set of people who form the potential audience for any given heritage event and who are then reminded of their connections to each other through their collective attention. In these circumstances, previously constituted identities and/or interests are often invoked to explain the thoughts and feelings that tie people to each other, establishing their willingness to accept a given normative basis for shared values and institutions. Differently from this concern with how heritage practices are implicated in the reproduction of existing social relations, for this issue we are encouraging explorations that start with the idea that as plural formations, publics may be initiated and consolidated when strangers come to recognize new shared interests and affinities. Thus our focus is the way diverse sets of people engage with various forms of both tangible and intangible heritage forging relationships that were not pre-existing.

When heritage practices are implicated in this moment of the making (or re-making) of collectivities, something of what Hannah Arendt called “world-making” happens. In such moments, through engagements with representations of the past and each other, varied people may come to understand themselves in new ways as members of a public in formation. An important consequence of considering heritage practices on such terms is that it extends the manner in which such practices may be understood to be both political and pedagogical. More concretely stated, heritage practices within but not limited to museums, urban landscapes, internet web sites, tourist sites, monuments and memorials, as well as engagements with music, dance, drama, craft and art may all contribute to the formation of new publics and hence social and political re-formation of everyday life.

For this special issue IJHS we are calling for papers concerned with how heritage practices provoke the conditions that enable the existence of publics, and contribute to their plurality,
historicity, stability/instability, and relationship with each other. Such papers would likely consider not only what it means to be with others in new public formations but as well, they may address the material and spatial conditions that enable and limit their coming into being. Further, consideration might also be given to the substantive relation of new public formations to existing State forms and global ideologies. IJHS calls on scholars to consider the potential of heritage practices for enriching public landscapes, engendering collective experience and insight, inciting debates and democratic practices, and creating new forms of human solidarity. Papers should aim to reevaluate and reposition ideas of the public, placing heritage within contemporary contexts and concerns.

Please submit paper proposals (abstracts of up to 300 words) by June 1, 2008 to the issue's editors Roger I. Simon ( ) and Susan Ashley ( ). Completed manuscripts will be due September 30, 2008. Potential contributors will be interested to know that Routledge has expressed an interest in publishing the special issue in book form once it has been published by the IJHS.

Roger I. Simon is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Equity Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the Faculty Director of the Centre for Media and Culture in Education and Director of the Testimony and Historical Memory Project at OISE/UT. Simon has written broadly on critical approaches to cultural pedagogy most recently focusing on the areas of public history and museum studies. His research and writing addresses questions of the pedagogical and ethical dimensions of practices of cultural memory. This work is part of Simon's on-going exploration of the intersections of social and political theory, cultural practice, and pedagogy in regard to the project of securing a public sphere enabling a just and compassionate society. His recent publications include articles in Museum and Society, Museum Management and Curatorship, and the Journal of Museum Education. His most recent book is The Touch of the Past: Remembrance, Learning and Ethics published by Palgrave MacMillan 2005.

Susan Ashley is a SSHRC-CGS doctoral candidate in the Communication and Culture program at York University in Toronto. She has had 20 years of experience in the heritage field as a front-line interpreter, program and exhibit planner, and consultant, working with public heritage sites across Canada. She has published in IJHS, Museum & Society, the Canadian Journal of Communication, and various heritage professional journals.


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