The Afterlife of Underwater Cultural Heritage: Commoning, Appropriation and Dispossession
An event jointly organized by CMI and the University of Bergen and ‘TransOcean’ funded by ERC (No. 802223) and led by Edyta Roszko
In Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and – more recently – Ukraine, cultural heritage sites have become battlefields where military operations seek to undermine religious, cultural or territorial bonds of the targeted population. Throughout human history, destruction of heritage has been part warfare – as exemplified by the destruction of the Benin palace and the Yuanmingyuan imperial summer palace outside Beijing and the plunder of both sites’ famous bronzes – but nowadays the global heritage regimes and media presence make their destruction an immediate global media event. The past and its material legacies are fiercely contested, disputed, fought over but they have been also strategically used when histories and cultural pasts overlap, as in the 19th century invention of the term Silk Road. Trade, political relations, energy and political security could be carefully dressed up into topographies of history, in a process glossed as ‘geoculture’ by Tim Winter. The twenty-first century also shows that new players, such as museums, archeologists, treasure hunting companies, fishers and heritage tourism enter the scene of heritage culture. Underwater cultural heritage, including shipwrecks and other sites and objects of historical and archaeological interest such as ports, harbours and submerged civilisations are threatened by looting and commercial salvage, industrial trawling, coastal development, deep sea mining and exploitation of marine resources. These vestiges are weakened not only by global warming, ocean acidification and pollution, but also by disputes over ownership, territory and management. The presenters Dr Natali Pearson (the University of Sydney) and Marine Heritage Analyst Zainab Tahir (Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia) will address these issues looking specifically at management, interpretation and display of threatened underwater cultural heritage.
Make heritage, not war: The battle to protect sunken warships
Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, the University of Sydney, where she is affiliated with the School of Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Indonesia. Natali’s first book, Belitung: The Afterlives of a Shipwreck, will be published by University of Hawai‘i Press in November 2022. She is co-editor of Perspectives on the Past at New Mandala and a regular contributor to the media, including Channel News Asia, The Jakarta Post and The Conversation.
Linking Local Based Tourism and Marine Heritage protection: Lesson from Karawang West Java
Ms Zainab Tahir is Marine Heritage Analyst and Assistant Coordinator for Shipwrecks Management Unit at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia. She conducts assessment on underwater sites management, assists local based marine heritage tourism development, and supervises collections management and operational activities of Marine Heritage Gallery in Jakarta and artifacts storage in West Java.
Prof Anne Katrine Bang is historian at the Department of Archeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, specializing in the Islamic history of the Western Indian Ocean in the 19thand 20thcenturies. Her research focus includes religious changes but also social, legal and political changes.
Prof Knut Rio is socio-cultural anthropologist at the Department of Cultural History of the University of Museum Bergen. His field experience includes Oceania and Norway and his research focuses on heritage politics and commons and commoning of cultural heritage.
Dr Edyta Roszko is Senior Researcher and social anthropologist at CMI. Her scientific areas include maritime anthropology, comparative historical anthropology and regimes of spatiality and temporality. She is the author of Fishers, Monks and Cadres: Navigating State, Religion and the South China Sea in Central Vietnam co-published with NIAS/University of Hawai’i Press.
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