Call for Papers

Past and Present – Built and Social:

A Conference on Culture, History, Art and Design

Czech Technical University in Prague: June 28-30, 2023

2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Heritage. It established culture as a concept to be safeguarded. That event came three decades after the World Heritage Convention. Through that, UNESCO had set up its World Heritage List of protected sites and buildings. The intervening years have seen multiple shifts in how we define heritage – as both material objects and social traditions. Today more than ever before, the distinction is blurred. The streets on which we live, the edifices we design and the monuments we protect are all connected to the lifestyles, traditions and social groupings we celebrate and safeguard.

What we mean by heritage today then, is an open and diverse question. Our buildings and environments, our cities and neighborhoods, our memorials and our artworks, our cultures and communities are all component parts of what we understand as ‘preservable’ history. The dynamics at play are, however, complex. Conserving architectural heritage can conflict with development models. Community traditions are threatened by globalization. Monuments are often focal points for cultural contestation. Archaeological sites are valued in themselves and simultaneously erased by both the forces of conflict and ‘progress’.

However, the past and the present also overlap and mutually support. Placemaking sees built and cultural heritage as key to urban practice. Contextualization is central to planning laws. Museums are sites for communities and display. Heritage organisations preserve buildings and educate the public. Galleries present historical art while debating meanings in contemporary terms.

Reflecting this scenario, this conference seeks papers on heritage from various standpoints: art and architecture historians concerned with preservation; architects and urban planners engaged with placemaking; cultural theorists and social historians documenting objects, places, people and events. Artists working with community and place. It welcomes case studies that are specific and place-based. It embraces theoretical frameworks that function globally. It is interested in variegated methods of research and analysis.

Although the event is international in its reach, it is also interested in the specifics of the Czech Republic. It stems from the Prague-based project Then, Now and Always and uses its themes of museums and communities as a key strand. Other strands and themes are listed below and aim to bring in contributions from multiple fields:

  • History, Conservation and the Future – Protecting buildings, monuments, art, traditions & cultures
  • Design, Planning, Art and Context – Placemaking, architecture, urban design, landscapes and art
  • Community, Heritage and Identity – Intangible cultural heritage and the forces of globalization
  • Museums and Places of Memory – Cultural Institutions as sites of preservation, display and education
  • Local Histories – Regional Cultures – Storytelling locally, regionally and globally
  • Archives, Archaeology and Education – Methods of research, analysis and protection

Timeline and Procedure:

The organisers invite proposals for 15-20 minute presentations. To submit your proposals, please fill the form with a 250-word abstract, contact details and a brief bio by 25 November 2022 (first round of submissions). Feedback is expected by 20 December 2022. The second round of submissions is on 15 April 2023, and feedback by 25 April 2023.

Full papers submissions are expected by 30 August 2023, with the opportunity to resubmit papers by 10 January 2024.

For more information, please visit the page of the conference.