Right at the peak of an identity crisis of Europe with financial fiascos of whole nation states, military confrontations and refortified state borders at its continental peripheries with inflows of refugees from the Near East and the Global South did the European Council and Parliament representatives reach a provisional agreement to establish a European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. With slogans such as “We Europeans” and “our common European heritage”, the campaign intends to “raise awareness of European history and values, and strengthen a sense of European identity” (Press release of the European Council, 9 February 2017). However, with its unquestioned core assumption of the validity of Europe’s territorial status with simply interconnected borderlines of its affiliated member states and of a given collective ‘we’-identity within the European Union, this cultural-political campaign risks to miss the unique chance of a critical re-assessment of how a ‘European’ dimension of cultural heritage can be conceptualized in today’s globalized and inter-connected reality.
By taking into consideration the recent processes of the accelerated exchange and global circulation of people, goods and ideas, the conference aims to reconstitute the old-fashioned units of analysis of what ‘European cultural heritage’ could be by locating the European and the non-European in a reciprocal relationship in order to evolve a non-hierarchical and broader conceptual framework.
Concept: Michael Falser, visiting professor, University Paris-Sorbonne (2018)