Universiteit Leiden

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Contested Heritage

Thursday 23 September 2021


Museums, Collections and Public Space

The LDE Centre for Global Heritage and Development and the Research Group Museums, Collections and Society, (Leiden University) organize a one day seminar on the topic of contested heritage (23 September 2021).


Many heritage and museum discussions are now centred around contested heritage. Various (minority) groups appropriate heritage and collections, and sometimes even tend to monopolize the discussion about rightful ownership, use and location. These sentiments run contrary to the dominant discourse of the 19th and 20th centuries, in which western scholars were often seen as beholding the ‘ultimate truth’ in interpreting heritage and collections.

The seminar aims to address the causes, effects and societal circumstances of the debates on appropriation, ownership and restitution of heritage.

The presentations and discussions will take place on 23 September 2021, in Leiden. We have decided to choose for a hybrid approach, partly real-life, partly digital. The idea is that most speakers are present in Leiden. The public can follow the seminar by means of a livestream.


As a framework we propose to address the subject of contested heritage in terms of identity, resentment and ownership.

Literature: Francis Fukuyama – Identity. Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition, 2018.


10:15 Opening and introduction

10:30 Mike Rowlands: Preserving the ‘Real Heritage’. How Religion slips through the Quanzhou Net

11:00 Graeme Were: Fishing rights and fishing wrongs: Urban equality and heritage livelihoods in Da Nang, Vietnam

11:30 Coffee/tea break

11:45 Ian Lilley: Our Brave New World?

12:15 Discussion

12:45 Lunch break

14:15 Jos Platenkamp: Cultural appropriation: An anthropological critique

14:45 Arthur Crucq: From contested to endangered: Responsibilities for heritage in the light of climate change, or how Jakarta is rapidly sinking

15:05 Eulàlia Gasso Miracle : Finders, keepers: Colonial legacies in natural history museums

15:25 Coffee/tea break

15:40 Evelien Campfens: Contested artefacts: property or heritage?

16:00 Arie den Boer: Contested heritage - citizens' initiative for water heritage in public space

16:20 Discussion and conclusion

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