Workshop Report: The Stigma of ‘Underdevelopment’ in Heritage Production

A report by student reporter Emy Theuws

On Friday 11 October, the workshop on “The Stigma of ‘Underdevelopment’ in Heritage Production” took place in the beautiful building of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology.

This inaugural project of Sit-Im (Situated Imaginaries) funded by the Centre for Global Heritage and Development was focused at bringing together scholars from different backgrounds with the aim to transform conventional thinking about the Global South. In this regard, the topic of ‘underdevelopment’ was of special interest, as the mere label indicates a power imbalance between those who are ascribed by it and those who use it to ascribe ‘others’. These linkages of development with modernity have been used by both the Global North and the Global South, although often with different meanings attached to it.

This workshop was focused around the theme of heritage and how this concept of (under)development is employed and negotiated in the production of heritage. Through four round table discussion sessions, several topics were addressed, ranging from actors in development narratives, to sites of underdevelopment and the subjectivity of heritage narratives. A dozen scholars participated in this workshop by presenting their ongoing research and their ideas about the concepts of development in relation to heritage. Several respondents took it upon them to pose critical questions to the researchers and instigate discussions on topics related to the research.

During the closing session, an interesting discussion commenced on the problematic terms of modernity and heritage as concepts in research and how terminology can differ across disciplines. Furthermore, parallels and differences between research were identified and discussed which resulted in an inspiring and fruitful session for all participants.

Discussing castles and dungeons with Jonathan Bill Doe. How do we deal with disparate discourses on colonial heritage in West Africa?


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