Conference Monuments and heritage preservation in Czechoslovakia and other Central European countries during the second half of the 20th century


Monuments and heritage preservation in Czechoslovakia and other Central European countries during the second half of the 20th century

Date: 26–29 April 2021
Venue: On-line

The conference will focus on the development of heritage preservation, and crucial themes and key personalities in the field of heritage preservation in Central European countries belonging with the Eastern bloc after 1945. In many ways, the post-World War II period was a time of continuation of older concepts, but it was also an era with reconceptualization of perception of the heritage and shifts in meanings attributed to it. In society, law, expert discourse and local contexts, existing mechanisms were applied, along with new thinking about heritage and its preservation and access to the past in general. After the experiences of the Second World War and Nazism, the Central European space of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and the eastern part of Germany was confronted with limited democracy and, until the end of the 1980s, with communist rule. The main objective of the conference is to place heritage conservation in historical perspective during the often turbulent political changes of the second half of the 20th century and hopefully draw some comparisons across national borders within the region of Central Europe. Contributions of a more general nature, those with broader interdisciplinary overlap, and works focusing on specific subject areas viewed through individual case studies will be welcomed.
Continuity and discontinuity of cultural heritage of the past after 1945.

Questions of importance for this conference include the following. Which older concepts of heritage preservation retained influence in the second half of the 20th century and which did not? How did the state of research on heritage preservation and its perspectives evolve? How did expert discourses and the ideological background of heritage conservation develop? What changes were made in approaches to the protection of larger territorial units? Which personalities did determine the development of heriatge preservation? How did (non-) existent legislation facilitate or complicate the protection of monuments? How can we describe and summarize the approach to cultural heritage after 1945? How did changes in heritage preservation in authoritarian regimes compare to global developments? How did domestic heritage preservation relate to international institutions and documents (e.g. the Venice Charter, UNESCO, etc.)? How have the priorities for the protection of heritage changed from the end of 1945 to 1989? How were these goals achieved and what problems did heriatge preservation authorities face? How did the theoretical or rhetorical realm differ from the practical performance of heriateg preservation? How did authoritarian regimes shape the practice of heritage preservation? How did understanding of the social uses of monuments change after 1945? How did access to the cultural heritage of the past as a whole and its individual segments change in this context? What policies of memory and what types of re-labelling did postwar states have in relation to heritage associated with divergent historical traditions (for example: aristocratic castles and chateaus or sacral church objects)? How did the development of technology and the media change representations of heriatge for professionals and the lay public? What was the role of heritage in public space? What role did economics play? What do different treatments of immoveable and moveable cultural objects tell us about the history of monuments and heritage preservation in Central Europe after 1945?