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UoC Forum Cultural Heritage in Africa and Asia – Discourses and Practices

The UoC Forum Cultural Heritage in Africa and Asia – Discourses and Practices brings together perspectives from disciplines that participate in multiple debates concerning cultural heritage in Africa and other parts of the Global South.

This will result in a critical re-evaluation of key concepts of cultural and social studies and linguistics, bringing into the debate a new interdisciplinary approach to heritage as part of memory culture, invented tradition and multiple identity concepts.

This directly refers to key issues in postcolonial studies and research on the history of the academic disciplines themselves, questioning their entitlement to define heritage, cultural praxis and language on a local basis, but using a Western (or Northern) perspective. The hegemonic discourses and ideologies constitute perhaps the biggest obstacle for the creation of a desirable new, participatory paradigm. Their dominance and the consequent negligence and marginalization of alternative perspectives are not incidental but are mirrored in all aspects of Western dealings with the African continent (and, in part, Asia).

The Forum project provides a platform for a discussion of such key criticisms in an attempt to produce answers and, possibly, solutions. The task of analysing non-European discourses and discerning local discourses and agency gains prominence, and the major criteria of classifying heritage – tangible/intangible, cultural/natural, global/national/regional/local – are questioned and further explored on the background of comparative analyses of diverse African, Asian, and European discourses and practices partly based on short-term field studies undertaken within the project.

The goal of the Forum is to produce proposals for follow-up projects on the base of the critical debate that implements. The scholars brought together in this UoC Forum form an interdisciplinary and international group who share strong competences and expertise in social and cultural studies, mainly focusing on Africa and South Asia, and in comparative and intercultural studies on educational policies and theories. However, the objectives of this Forum are not only inter-and trans-disciplinary cooperation and exchange, but also capacity building by involving graduate students, with special attention given to alumni from African countries.

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Funded under the Institutional Strategy of the University of Cologne within the framework of the German Excellence Initiative