The special focus of the 15th Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference is heritage, a concept of central importance in today’s academic and public discourse. The conference will explore its meaning, premises, manifestations and outcomes in today’s globalized society, culture, education, economy and politics. From local communities to entire ethnic groups and nations, people increasingly define themselves in terms of specific cultural features and elements. Such groups consider that these features and elements encapsulate the essence of their identity and constitute a distinct heritage. Heritage practices, and the very meaning of heritage, its safeguarding and promotion, are associated with modernity and its manifestations, such as industrialization, urbanization, globalization, and concern with the physical and cultural environment.
Scholars are invited to contribute their analyses to enhance our understanding of what heritage is and how it conditions local and global perceptions and practices of community building and culture, especially as regards cultural awareness, reflexivity, re-evaluation, and the ways of transmitting heritage expressed by its various agents. Our discourse is expected to illuminate issues such as the following: the very concept of “heritage” and its association with modernity and “risk society”; tangible and intangible heritage, its pursuit as it relates to UNESCO Conventions regarding the safeguarding of heritage, and the effects of such pursuit upon the ways in which local communities and humanity as a whole regard culture nowadays; the question of “heritage ownership”, in relation to local vs. global claims of cultural property, including “heritage repatriation”; heritage in multicultural societies; agency in heritage: the roles, often conflicting, that community members, academics, public administrators, community leaders, media representatives and other cultural brokers play in formulating, discussing and promoting aspects of heritage in the public sphere; the matter of to what extent and in what ways concern with heritage has influenced the social sciences and the humanities as regards their teaching and research emphases and methodologies. Comparative perspectives arising from the study of heritage phenomena across space and time are expected to enrich, and possibly challenge, our ways of thinking about them.