Association of Critical Heritage Studies 6th Biennial Conference in Santiago (Chile)

Association of Critical Heritage Studies 6th Biennial Conference in Santiago (Chile)

Between 4 and 7 December 2022, the 6th Biennial Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) took place at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile in Santiago. It was organised by the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies and dedicated to interculturalities and their relationship to heritage with the aim “to gain an understanding of the dialogue between traditional hierarchy and the New epistemes and aspirations of a variety of groups, especially indigenous and afro-descendant peoples”. It was the first time the ACHS conference was held in Latin America, making it both a challenge and an opportunity for the organizers to present and discuss issues specific to South America.  

The first keynote speaker, Ana Filipa Vrdoljak, professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney, presented the evolution of international law in relation to land and other properties in the (ex)-colonies and exposed decolonisation as an unfinished project.

Ana Filipa Vrdoljak, keynote speaker. Photo: Š. Ledinek Lozej

The second keynote speaker Lucas Lixinski, vice-president of the ACHS, highlighted the intertwined relationship among interculturality, heritage and the Other through examples of indigenous, afro descendants and migrants’ heritage.

The Heritage on the Margins programe members Martina Bofulin and Špela Ledinek Lozej participated in the session, dedicated to gastronomy, heritage and identities and intercultural landscapes and itineraries, respectively. Špela Ledinek Lozej together with Marjeta Pisk presented a paper on the on the scalarities and interculturalities of the Walk of Peace cultural route while Martina Bofulin discussed the legacies of Chinese restaurants as part of the transnational heritage.

Besides the lively discussion panels and interesting presentations, the highlights of the event were the opening ceremony with the theater play, the closing event with live guitar music in the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and the anniversary roundtable 10 Years on: Past, Present, and Future of (A)CHS. The Roundtable brought together founders of the Association, past and current ACHS presidents, and an early career researcher, that jointly reflected on the association’s original aims, outlined by the now famous Manifesto (a provocation presaging the creation of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and its initial conference at the University of Gothenburg in 2012),  its milestones, and future directions, where some divergencies between academic and practitioners’ visions were evidenced.

The anniversary roundtable. From left to rigt: Trinidad Rico, moderator and vice-president, Laurajane Smith, co-founder of the association, John Giblin, co-organiser of the first conference in Gothenburg, Victoria Vargas Downing, early career researcher from Chille, Melissa Baird, president, and Lucie Morisset, ex-president. Photo: Š. Ledinek Lozej

The accompanying program focussed on Chile’s complex history. We attended the Uncomfortable Monuments walking tour, which led us through significant and, at the same time, contested places of the capital city of Santiago, connected with the social uprising in October 2019. The walking tour highlighted recent historical events from the perspective of those resisting on the streets who found their expression mainly through street art and the toppling of monuments that had preceded that of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

General Manuel Baquedano monument on the Baquedano Square (Plaza Baquedano), that was during the 2019 uprisings dubbed as the Dignity Square (Plaza de la Dignidad) On March 12, 2021, the four-ton statue of General Baquedano was removed to be restored by the National Council of Monuments. Photo: Š. Ledinek Lozej