Polarized Pasts Conference

This is an Archive of a Past Event

Heritage and Political Polarization in Europe and the United States

This international workshop seeks to confront the pasts unfolding right now. Over the last decade, political movements on the alt-, hard- and far right have come to characterize their mission as a "cultural struggle," claiming that the majority is threatened by and cannot co-exist with other social categories.

In doing so, many have seized on the potential of heritage as a vehicle to display dissatisfaction with the present. Meanwhile, conflicting voices draw on heritage as evidence for diversity and a means to achieve social justice. And so, in the wake of European crises and growing polarization in U.S. politics, we find heritage used as leverage for calls to both halt and embrace immigration, to both resist and further globalization. To better understand the role of the past in this polarized present, and to identify relevant questions and ways forward, the workshop draws on the unique insights of archaeologists, anthropologists, classicists, and social scientists from Europe and the United States.


Reinhard Bernbeck (Free University of Berlin)
Chiara de Cesari (University of Amsterdam)
Chip Colwell (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)
Alfredo González-Ruibal (Spanish National Research Council)
Johanna Hanink (Brown University)
Michael Herzfeld (Harvard University)
Herdis Hølleland (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage)
Anna Källén (Stockholm University)
Cathrine Moe Thorleifsson (University of Oslo)
Elisabeth Niklasson (Stanford University)
Donna Zuckerberg (editor-in-chief of Eidolon)

View full program