Workshop for ICOMOS members: “Diversify / Decolonise Heritage!”
At present, monuments of colonialists, oppressors and racists are being toppled in many places around the world. These actions are part of wider protests that demand changes in how we deal with history and how officially designated heritage addresses racism, colonialism, enslavement and oppression.
From local heritage to the World Heritage list, cultural diversity that is inscribed in urban space, in cultural landscapes and in cultural practices is often denied or unmentioned. Narratives reduced to the representation of the majority society dominate institutional heritage practice in many places. A skewed perspective on the ‘heritage of humanity’ is also reflected in the distribution of World Heritage Sites around the globe, which has long been criticized.
History is complex and can be viewed from many perspectives. It is high time that institutionalized cultural heritage practice seeks approaches to include multiple perspectives into heritage narratives which are all too often single sided. This includes critical reflections on hegemonic history, distorted myths and glorification and their forms of representation in material and immaterial heritage.
Systemic racism is part of a state of mind that is deeply rooted in many societies and their institutions and thus also in cultural heritage practice. ICOMOS has the responsibility to immediately and radically enter into a continuous process of dealing with and overcoming any forms of racist attitudes.
ICOMOS Germany’s ad-hoc ‘Working Group 2020’ would like to give a first impulse for the positioning of ICOMOS with regard to its role in creating an anti-racist practice of heritage conservation.
Our aim is to encourage reflection on current practice within ICOMOS (national and international), to bring ICOMOS into line with the current debate, and to achieve a dialogue between members among themselves and also between members and heritage communities.
Proposed Topics and Questions
Starting to listen, a respectful dialogue and inclusive communication are the first steps to take.
- Setting up an initial “reflection group” that is open to all ICOMOS members who are interested
- Discussing underrepresentation of BIPoCs within our organization
- Identifying statements of external communities and organizations (SAH, GAHTC)
- Inviting critical experts and heritage communities to contribute
- Which formats can be developed to create networks with organizations led by BIPoC and create an ongoing discussion?
- Identifying best practices for how to achieve inclusiveness in cultural heritage conservation practice
- Identifying synergies with internal programs (‘Our Common Dignity’, Shared Built Heritage Committee, ...)
- Encouraging NCs to take this debate to national levels
“It is not enough to be 'not a racist'. We must be anti-racists”