Critical Heritage Studies: Central European Perspectives

Critical Heritage Studies: Central European Perspectives

04. 07. 2022

6–7 October 2022, Prague, Czech Republic

Call for papers. Extended deadline!

Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Department of Critical Heritage Studies


call for papers for the conference

Critical Heritage Studies: Central European Perspectives

6–7 October 2022, Prague, Czech Republic



Since the inception of the Association for Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) in the early 2010s, various local or thematic networks have emerged across the globe to promote new ways to tackle what is understood as heritage. Central Europe has been somewhat neglected so far in these discussions. The conference thus aims to achieve two interconnected goals: first, it will introduce critical heritage studies approaches to the local audience and open new research avenues in the region; and second, it should stimulate debate about how Central European perspectives may enrich international heritage studies scholarship.

Central Europe’s peculiar past echoes to the present. The region's history has been marked by violent ruptures and continuities that shaped local state formations, communities, and, consequently, local notions and practices of heritage. Modern nationalism played a decisive role as a force behind both imperial and nation-state discourses and practices of heritage; the violent and destructive forces unleashed by the two World Wars played a role as well. With state borders being redrawn and whole communities disappearing or being displaced, societies had to find new ways of dealing with the relics of the past. The advent of socialism and the new global order after WWII further reshaped the way people related to and imagined what is and is not “their” heritage. State socialism brought its modernist vision of protecting and presenting heritage. Finally, global and local changes after the fall of the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s brought new challenges and new ways of dealing with heritage amidst the reality marked by the legacies of socialism and the emerging market economy.

Regional approaches to heritage have often stressed a traditional and unified notion concerning national monuments and their preservation. We argue that the conceptual toolkit of critical heritage studies provides a new and promising approach for understanding heritage that goes beyond the traditional conceptions. For instance, analysing the discursive dimension of heritage politics allows for considering the power relations and potential conflicts between the state, institutions, heritage managers, and the public. Thus, it sheds light on the contested nature of heritage. Power relations are evident also in the politics of heritage representation and management, which addresses new museology. Unlike traditional views of the museum, this approach also calls for a different attitude to museum visitors and a greater involvement of the public in curatorial practices. Another new approach to heritage comes from social anthropology, which turns attention to relations between human and more-than-human actors and thus challenges the older notion of viewing cultural heritage and natural heritage as two separate entities. All these critical provocations have the potential to stimulate local intellectual discussion and practical aspects of heritage management. On the other hand, we would also like to discuss the limits and pitfalls of adopting international critical heritage studies in the region. Central Europe had a different history from the countries where critical heritage studies were initially conceived. It is thus not possible to simply copy-and-paste these approaches without adjusting them to local conditions.



We wish to interlink scholars from the region and bring local topics to the international academic audience so that local debates and challenges will enrich the global debate in critical heritage studies. In order to do so, we plan to found a local, Central European Chapter of the Association for Critical Heritage Studies and thus support this vision.

Nevertheless, our wish is not only to connect scholars. In the long-term perspective, we would like to transcend academic ivory tower debate and bring into mutual discussion and inspiration academics, heritage industry experts from museums, memory institutions, and community representatives.

Therefore, we invite scholars and heritage practitioners to share their thoughts on the prospects and pitfalls of adapting critical heritage studies scholarship in Central Europe. We also encourage scholars to think about how Central European perspectives would enrich international heritage debates. We seek papers addressing the following aspects:

  • Heritage, power, and intersections of heritage and identity politics
  • Politics of heritage representation, history, and current developments in museums
  • History and development of the local heritage industry and tourism
  • Local authoritarian regimes (Nazi, socialist) and their legacies in heritage politics
  • Case studies of influential movements, persons, or ideas connected to heritage, either originating from or being adopted in the region
  • Critical reflection on heritage studies scholarship, heritage conservation, and heritage management in the region
  • Sustainability and the future of heritage
  • Consideration of the impact of global heritage organisations like UNESCO
  • Caminoisation, replication, and heritagisation of religion; spiritualisation of heritage



Please, send us your 300-word abstract, together with your institutional affiliation and contact details. We welcome your contribution in a standard conference format: 20-minute presentation, followed by 10 minutes of a discussion. Please submit your paper here.



There is no conference fee; however, the number of active participants is limited to 20. Hence, please, make sure your proposed presentation is related to the CE region and fits the general theme well.



  • Keynote Lecture by Prof David Harvey (Aarhus University)
  • Foundation of the Central Europe chapter of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies
  • Round Table discussion
  • Conference Dinner



The conference will take place at the representative residence of the Czech Academy of Sciences – Vila Lanna – in the centre of Prague.


IMPORTANT DATES (extended deadline)

Submission deadline extended: 7 September 2022

Notification of Acceptance: continously announced after submission, no later then 15 September

Final Programme: 20 September 2022



Dr Pavel Horák, Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences

Dr Jaroslav Otčenášek, Institute of Ethnology, Czech Academy of Sciences



For general queries, please, email us at

The Czech Academy of Sciences kindly sponsors the conference via the Strategy AV21 Programme “Anatomy of European Society”.

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