AANK16109U Heritagizing Pasts, Presents and Futures

Volume 2016/2017

Over the last four decades much societal attention – and to a lesser extent anthropological focus – has shifted from the category of tradition to that of heritage. In contrast with tradition – the historical antinomy and even negation of modernity – heritage itself is a modern concept, in the sense that it gained currency in modern or even postmodern times. After the era of “high modernity”, the concept of heritage – along with such concepts as “identity” – emerged which denoted some degree of historical continuity into the (post-)modern presence. After all, heritage – like inheritance – connotes assets that are transferrable from one generation to the other. At the same time, the label of heritage sets specific sites, objects and practices apart for contemplation, viewing or experiencing as something out of the ordinary, making it into something (quasi-)sacred rather than profane (in Durkheimian sense), and turning it into a spectacle (in Debordian sense) for others than the heritage constituency.

But in this course we will at once debunk common temporal notions of unilinearity (from past via presence into future) and paradoxical spatial notions of heritage as at once having local currency (in terms of denoting unique “identity”) and universal currency (as in world heritage) by looking at the effects of heritagization. We will also debunk the sacrality of heritage by investigating the connections with political, economic, cultural, religious and other “dimensions” of social life. In this way, we will use heritage as a synecdoche towards a holistic ethnographic understanding of such connections in our differentiated and fragmented societies.

This course will be loosely connected with the HERA-funded project “HERILIGION: The heritagization of religion and the sacralization of heritage in contemporary Europe” and will involve small-scale field research by students in Denmark (or, if desirable and possible, elsewhere) in sites that are officially labeled heritage, or that specific groups claim as “their” heritage.

Learning Outcome

The final portfolio is expected to demonstrate, by way of a clearly structured, well written, and lucidly argued set of texts, that the student is capable of:

  • demonstrating knowledge of and insight into the anthropological literature concerning questions of heritage and heritagization as well as related topics

  • demonstrating the capacity to carry out small-scale ethnographic field research in a selected heritage site and/or within the overall theme of the course

  • demonstrating the ability to engage productively with the weekly lectures (and assigned texts) within the seminars and generate a coherent set of postings that cast light on the chosen theme from different angles

  • connecting the implications that the assigned texts, additional readings, and the weekly seminar discussions with the small-scale research in the site chosen at the beginning of the course

MSc students: 500 pages obligatory literature + 200 pages of literature chosen by students

Literature chosen by students must be relevant to the course’s subject matter.

Course literature will be available via Absalon

The course will consist of 14 weeks, with weekly sessions consisting of a two-hour seminars. In some weeks, the seminars will be replaced by research workshops to guide students in doing research. In addition, the seminars will be the site to guide and discuss portfolio assignments.

The student is expected to contribute orally to discussions on the theme of the lecture course in the seminars. The student is expected to demonstrate his or her ability to read and understand the course literature by regularly uploading the required ‘postings’ to his or her portfolio on the Absalon course website.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Course Preparation
  • 120
  • Exam Preparation
  • 48
  • Seminar
  • 42
  • Total
  • 210
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Length: The portfolio exam can be taken individually or in groups of maximum four students. The portfolio exam consists of 3-7 submissions. The number of submissions is set by the lecturer. The total length of all of the submissions must not exceed 30,000 keystrokes for a single student. For groups of two students the maximum is 40,000 keystrokes. For groups of three students the maximum is 45,000 keystrokes and for groups of four students the maximum is 50,000 keystrokes.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship

1. re-exam:

An essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date. The students must sign up for the 1. re-exam.

Please note that the re-exam is an essay even for courses, where the ordinary exam is a portfolio exam.

2. re-exam:

A new essay with a revised problem statement must be submitted at the announced date next semester. The students must sign up for the 2. re-exam.

Criteria for exam assesment

See description of learning outcome.