The lecture examines the relationship between cultural property and cultural heritage with reference to various case studies from Greece, Morocco, Scotland, USA and Canada, Denmark, Iceland and Greenland. Moving from a legal to an historical definition, it argues that the two concepts represent fundamentally different approaches to subject formation, that they produce distinct bodies of expertise and belong to different rationalities of government in the patrimonial field. Protecting cultural property is a technology of sovereignty and forms part of the order of the modern liberal state. Conversely, safeguarding cultural heritage is a technology of reformation, cultivating responsible subjects and entangling them in networks of expertise and management.
Valdimar Tr. Hafstein is a Professor of Folklore, Ethnology, and Museum Studies at the University of Iceland. Former Chair of Iceland’s National Commission for UNESCO and ex-president of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF).
This lecture is part of the project "CHEurope: Theorizing the future of heritage in Europe", supervised by Professor Nélia Dias, Director of the Department of Anthropology at the School of Social Sciences. CHEurope has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement Nr - 722416.