The Construction of Cultural Heritage in Migration Societies: Symbolic Boundaries and the Production of Trust

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Deborah SIELERT, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
This paper explores the production of trust in processes of symbolic and ethnic boundary making in German migration society. More specifically, it will be argued that a conceptualization of cultural heritage as an array of situated practices of (e)valuation (Lamont 2012) can serve as a fulcrum through which specific modes of the production of trust, such as collective and materialized imaginations of the past or processes of ethnicization, can be studied.
Cultural heritage is an arena of negotiations and struggles over resources, belonging and recognition. As a strategy of cultural production actors employ and reconstitute cultural repertoires of evaluation and, thereby, produce symbolic boundaries. As such, it is a production of history in relation to an (ethnic) group. Reconstructing processes of how specific groups generate value of cultural objects, places and practices can, firstly, open up new perspectives on ethnic membership formations in nationally constituted societies. Secondly, such an understanding of ‘cultural heritage as a resource’ challenges dominant grasps on the role of culture by institutionalized actors like nation states, the EU or UNESCO: a critical-deconstructive perspective uncovers a diversity of logics of (e)valuation; from productions of history in the everyday using the language of heritage, via its use as symbolic capital or the heritage industry.
This paper will be based on the research program and design of an empirical research project titled: “Cultural Heritage in Ethnoheterogeneous Societies”. It aims to contribute to the debate on alternative, situated and relational notions of trust (Garfinkel) by bringing them in conversation with a critical understanding of cultural heritage as a form of sense-making and a provision/appropriation of shared values and norms in everyday life. Just as symbolic and ethnic boundaries, trust becomes more or less relevant or takes differing forms depending on social conditions and situational contexts.