For this edition of the Re-scape colloquium we have invited a special guest: Dr. Debjani Bhattacharyya, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Drexel University, USA. Author of: Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
The main objective of the colloquium is to identify and debate the contribution that an integrated approach to natural and cultural heritage can make to the realization of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
If we take the materiality of water—as rivers, oceans tanks, tidal flats, waterworks, dams, pipes, abandoned water-infrastructure and architectural ruins—we must also put these material watery objects in conversation with sites of ruins in water, i.e. floating debris, plastic islands, oil spills, disappearing coastlines and melting ice-caps to ask: “How do we interact and engage the material legacies of both our ancient and very immediate past histories”? Such an approach uses inter-disciplinary methods to: consider landscape changes in the past, present and future; acknowledge the inseparability of natural and cultural heritage; explore the interconnection of spatial and conceptual aspects of heritage; and evaluate the importance of water related heritage for the future.
Structure of the Workshop
We seek to achieve the above in both a theoretical and applied setting, spread out over 2 days as follows:
• Theoretical discussions: Day 1 (Thursday, 24 October) are devoted to a public lecture and PhD seminar. We will invite Dr. Debjani Bhattacharyya to give a public lecture on water, heritage and the SDGs. This will be followed by a PhD seminar, where several PhD candidates (and post-doc researchers) who are working on a sustainable development topic will present their work, followed by discussion and comments by a panel of scholars.
• Links to practice: On Day 2 (Friday, 25 October), we will invite a number of public and private organizations to join the discussions in a roundtable format. We will debate the main question (“How can an integrated approach to natural and cultural heritage contribute to the realization of the SDGs?”) as part of a public event, with the same panel and featuring a number of guest speakers from organizations that are working (directly or indirectly) on the SDGs. Possible invitees: Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), the Province of South Holland, Deltares, and selected engineering firms.
The following questions will guide the discussions during the roundtable on Day 2:
1. What constitutes “heritage” when it comes to the environment (water)? And why is this “heritage” important?
2. Using the concept of architectural ruins, can we look at sea-borne debris (plastic, oil spill, melting ice-caps) of our recent history as Anthropocene ruin and a site for counter-narratives about our culture, that would generate new pedagogy and new policy-thinking?
3. How “cultural” is our natural heritage and how “natural” is our cultural heritage?
4. Where and how do local voices and policy voices interact, disrupt and work with one another?
5. Can natural and cultural heritage help to promote development? How so? Or is there a fundamental trade-off between the two? Can we come up with examples of either case?
6. What are the moral/ethical values of natural heritage? What heritage are we prepared to keep (i.e. by enforcing and paying for it) and what are we prepared to lose?
7. How are the decisions made in respect to Question 6? Who decides?