This lecture will address issues surrounding the multiple and entangled functions of heritage in cases where issues of trauma, disenfranchisement, and oppression make up a large part of a structure’s narrative. It will focus specifically on the politics of cultural identity, recognition, and social remembrance and how heritage conservation, especially with regards to “difficult heritage,” can never just be concerned with the preservation of the physical structure, but also acknowledge and emphasize the emotional and psychological baggage that such forms can and do bring with them in terms of their problematic histories and narratives. Whether dealing with issues of government repression and unlawful imprisonment (Robben Island, South Africa), claims of ownership by rival organizations (the Church of the Nativity, Palestine), or genocide (Auschwitz, Germany), trauma is often deeply enfolded within the fabric of architectural heritage and the cultural histories / identities that gave rise to it. Therefore, the question remains: how to privilege these sites appropriately not only as sites of important historical import, but also as sites that have fundamental lessons to teach future global citizens about human rights, independence, and the ethics of empowerment. This module will thus focus on the different ways each case study attempts to balance heritage / national identity with their problematic historical realities as sites / tools of oppression / conflict / disenfranchisement.
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