IUAES 2021 Yucatan Congress

Monday, May 24, 2021
Paths to Build Legitimate Memories: Cultural Heritage at the Centre of the Socio-Political Order

Deadline for submission of paper proposals: 30 June 2021


Paths to Build Legitimate Memories: Cultural Heritage at the Centre of the Socio-Political Order

[Commission on Urban Anthropology]





Conflict and memory play a major role in maintaining identity, belonging and good governance. However, they do not always overlap, while the tensions produced by their narrative and counternarrative often lead to irreconcilable outcomes. Cultural appropriation becomes fundamental in the construction of the political (and religious) physical space. But how are heritage and its memory constructed? How does this construction influence the way conflict over memory evolves? Heritage memory is representative of the culture of belonging. Focusing on urban settings, this panel aims to shed light on the determinants in the contemporary conflicts; particularly those that arise when heritage memory is denied. Drawing on mainstream anthropological literature on legitimacy and legitimation (Pardo 2000; Pardo & Prato eds 2018, 2019), the panel aims to answer the following questions: Can a diachronic approach help to explain the link between belonging and heritage, and the ways in which contemporary narratives are mobilized, legitimized and employed? What is the genesis of the ‘heritage making’ process? How does this process impact the nation state in pluri-ethnic and multi-religious societies? Do cultural institutional and consociational models built upon historical experience remain in equilibrium, or do they falter due to the established order’s loss of control over the physical space? How is heritage managed when it is located in places that no longer belong to the original owners? Institutional, religious and political aspects can be articulated in conflicting ways and at different levels. However, besides the different forms that heritage can take, its narratives impact everyday life. It is therefore important to understand the constraints that can explain cultural changes and legitimate contemporary narratives, spanning from time to space, from syncretism to denialism, from assimilation to cultural genocide.



In line with major theoretical trends in the mainstream literature on legitimacy and legitimation (Pardo 2000; Pardo & Prato eds 2018, 2019), we recognize that anthropology must answer not only what (cultural) heritage is, but also how it comes to matter, what is at stake, and for whom. Anthropology can help to define a broader and culturally diverse concept of heritage that depends not only upon static characteristics but also upon the context. Social dimensions can be changeable, particularly in conflict zones and where the situation develops fast, and even more in urban settings. The situation dictated by conflict brings out practical problems. The analysis of these problems helps us to understand the concept of cultural heritage, particularly in relation to current trends of domestic and international policies addressing wartime challenges. In such a context, our topic is relevant to urban anthropology (Pardo and Prato eds 2012; Prato and Pardo eds 2018), the anthropology of heritage (Rautenberg eds 2020, Weingrod 2006, Mollica 2012, Cervinkova 2020) and applied anthropology. The significance of the findings extends beyond the strictly academic realm. Cultural heritage plays a major role in conflict, including internationally not-recognized zones. Anthropology can help to see how these practices work and, in practical terms, suggest solutions. First, our topic is relevant to the issue of the preservation of cultural heritage and prevention of its intentional destruction (cultural genocide). Second, cultural policy and its management relates to the peculiarities of multiethnic and multi-confessional societies where the sites of heritages strongly relate to communal identities. Third, protection of monuments in conflict zones is not only an internal state problem, but also an international problem.



  • Cervinkova, H. and Golden, J.D. 2020. Remembering and Belonging: Jewish Heritage and Civic Agency in Poland’s Haunted Urban Space. In Ethnographies of Urbanity in Flux. Special issue, Urbanities, Vol.10 Suppl.3.
  • Mollica, M. and Arsen, H. 2021 (in press). The Syrian Armenians and the Turkish factor: Kessab, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor in the Syrian War. Palgrave
  • Pardo, I. 2000. Introduction. Morals of Legitimacy: Interplay between Responsibility, Authority and Trust. In I. Pardo (ed.) Moral of Legitimacy: Between Agency and System. Berghahn.
  • Pardo, I. and Prato, G.B. (eds) 2012. Anthropology in the City. Ashgate/Routledge.
  • Pardo, I. and Prato, G.B. (eds). 2018. Ethnographers Debate Legitimacy. Special issue, Urbanities, Vol.8 Suppl.1
  • Pardo, I. and Prato, G.B. (eds). 2019. Legitimacy: Ethnographic and Theoretical Insights. Palgrave.
  • Rautenberg, M. (ed.) 2020. Images and Imagination of Heritagisation in Western Cities. Special issue of Urbanities, 10(1).
  • Prato, G.B. and Pardo, I. (eds). 2018. The Palgrave Handbook of Urban Anthropology. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Semboloni, L. et. al (eds). 2017). El “Buen Gobierno” desde Nueva España hasta la República Mexicana. Armando Siciliano.
  • Weingrod, A. 2006. Political Reburials and Israeli Nationalism. In Political Ideology, Identity, Citizenship, edited by G.B. Prato. Special issue of Global Bioethics, 19 (1).


KEYWORDS: Cultural genocide, syncretism, memory, monuments, public space control.


Paper proposals should be submitted online at: https://www.iuaes2021yucatan.org/call-for-papers-registration/


The paper proposal must include:

a) Title of the panel/Table in which the paper is to be presented;

b) Title of paper (maximum 20 words);

c) Paper’s abstract (maximum 400 words);

d) Five keywords;

e) The panels’ language will be English.


Deadline for submission of paper proposals: 30 June 2021

Announcement of evaluation results of paper proposals: 1 August 2021


The Call for Papers Guidelines can be downloaded at: https://www.iuaes2021yucatan.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/CALL-FOR-PAPERS-OK.pdf


Please note that, due to the Covid-19 Emergency, the Conference will be held in virtual mode. However, should the situation change, and the provisions established by health authorities allow it, the organizers will endeavour to reinstate on-site participation and provide timely notice to all participants. Further details on the Congress (registration, financial aid, important dates, etc.) and Updates are available at: https://www.iuaes2021yucatan.org/home