Perspective interioare şi exterioare
Pornind de la o dezbatere publică din Suedia
În Suedia, conceptul de patrimoniu cultural nu este mai vechi de 100 de ani, dar abia în anii ’90 a devenit comun muzeelor, arhivelor şi construcţiilor. Introducerea acestui concept s-a datorat, pe de o parte, dorinţei guvernului şi a altor autorităţi publice de a crea relaţii de colaborare între reprezentanţii fiecărui sector al acestui domeniu, iar pe de altă parte unei ambiţii a aceloraşi structuri de a construi un nou domeniu politic.
Noţiunea de patrimoniu cultural gravitează în jurul normelor şi valorilor comune, perspectivelor şi obiceiurilor unei societăţi, neputând fi asimilată unui artefact sau clădiri, ci reprezentând suportul istoriei, al conştiinţei şi memoriei colective ale acelei societăţi. Patrimoniul cultural este o categorie care poate ajuta la structurarea realităţii sau poate reprezenta anumite părţi ale acesteia.
Caracterul cel mai evident al acestei categorii este cel de instrument în vederea îndeplinirii unor obiective: de pildă, cel de a păstra, a conserva un fenomen şi de a-l relaţiona unui trecut, unui eveniment, proces sau persoană, într-un cuvânt unei amintiri susţinută sau/şi dezvoltată de acel fenomen (un artefact sau o clădire).
Patrimoniul cultural nu poate fi privit ca având un conţinut unic, permanent şi fix. El este în continuă schimbare, este rezultatul alegerilor, negocierilor, chiar conflictelor dintre diferiţii săi actori.
Utilitatea politică a patrimoniului cultural
În Suedia s-a conferit patrimoniului cultural şi o utilitate politică, prin folosirea lui ca vehicul al unor principii de unitate socială, de creare a unei dimensiuni a consensului ce defineşte naţiunea şi îi uneşte cetăţenii. Astfel, amintim muzeele Skansen (deschis în 1891 în aer liber) şi Nordiska (deschis în 1873), ambele din Stockholm, primul prezentând o colecţie de construcţii din perioada pre-industrială, cel de-al doilea găzduind artefacte şi scrieri ce trimit la viata ţăranilor.
Exemplul cel mai reprezentativ în acest sens îl constituie provincia Dalarna (în care majoritatea ţăranilor este alcătuită din proprietari ai terenurilor şi căreia îi lipsesc conflictele sociale), provincie căreia i s-a construit o imagine idealizată de societate ţărănească egalitaristă, păstrătoare a vechilor valori sociale, în contrast cu societatea industrială care a renunţat la aceste valori, la ierarhii şi la sistemul politic specific.
Dacă acceptăm faptul că patrimoniul cultural reprezintă o categorie în care fenomene de tipul construcţiilor şi artefactelor contribuie la modul în care privim un grup, o regiune sau o naţiune, influenţând capacitatea oamenilor de a-şi aminti trecutul, atunci procesul de alegere şi asamblare a mai sus amintitelor fenomene constituie o activitate ce trebuie explorată cu atenţie.
Căutând răspuns la întrebări de tipul: Cine hotărăşte ce poate deveni patrimoniu cultural? Istoria şi amintirile cui pot fi incluse sau excluse din patrimoniul cultural? Ce epoci sunt sau nu dezirabile?, ajungem la concluzia că patrimoniul cultural nu este doar negociabil, ci este un mijloc de menţinere sub control a trecutului, cu alte cuvinte o luptă pentru putere.
O istorie a clădirilor catalogate
În perioada în care lucram pentru guvernul suedez am realizat o mică investigaţie asupra clădirilor istorice catalogate din Suedia, clădiri protejate la cel mai înalt nivel. M-am axat pe perioada ultimilor 150 de ani, căutând sa refac istoria acelei perioade – era industrială – pe baza a ceea ce-mi puteau comunica acele clădiri.
În cazul zonelor rurale, rezultatul a fost un peisaj social dominat de clasele privilegiate (castele şi conace) şi comunităţile industriale, de fermele bogate ale secolelor XVII şi XVIII. Femeile lipseau din acest peisaj iar muncitorii apăreau ca o nesemnificativă melodie de fundal.
La oraş mi-a fost relevată istoria burgheziei (vilele şi clădirile rezidenţiale ale secolului XIX, arhitectura elitei). Pe scurt, acele clădiri spuneau povestea bogaţilor. Şi este firesc, din moment ce doar elita putea ridica edificii care să reziste în timp atât de mult şi care sa aibă o valoare arhitecturală atât de mare încât să devină obiecte de patrimoniu, din moment ce chiar cei ce astăzi activează în domeniul culturii sunt reprezentanţi ai unei clase de mijloc înstărite.
Scopul politicii culturale
Întrebarea este dacă ceea ce am spus mai sus devine sau nu o problemă, iar dacă da, în ce sens? Şi susţin că este o problema din moment ce intr-o societate democratică cetăţenii trebuie sa aibă acces la propria istorie. Sunt conştient de faptul ca nu poţi reprezenta trecutul unei naţiuni doar prin clădirile pe care aceasta le are în patrimoniu, iar marile “găuri negre” de care vorbeam mai devreme sunt greu de motivat intr-o societate, cum este cea suedeza, în care politica culturală promovată de guvern urmăreşte “nivelarea diferentelor sociale în ceea ce priveşte păstrarea şi accesul la patrimoniul cultural” şi conştientizarea importantei acestei moşteniri în societate. De asemenea, tot guvernului îi revine responsabilitatea de a observa diferentele de clasa şi sex sau diferenţa dintre mediul rural şi cel urban.
Acestea sunt aspecte ale politicii culturale. Mai exista insă şi alt aspect, mai tradiţional, al rolului patrimoniului cultural în societatea democratică, şi anume păstrarea unităţii şi identităţii naţionale. Am amintit despre faptul ca în epoca industrială moştenirea culturală a trecutului a fost un instrument în construirea şi menţinerea unităţii naţiunii, trecutul devenind fundamentul a ceea ce astăzi numim “suedez”. Şi astăzi identificarea individului cu naţiunea este încă puternică, iar menţinerea acestei identificări (a fi suedez şi a aparţine societăţii suedeze) este o parte importantă a sistemului politic.
Şi intr-un context local şi ceva mai restrâns putem căuta sensul noţiunii de patrimoniu cultural sau de moştenire culturală.
Fenomenului de cercetare şi preţuire a trecutului i-a urmat o mişcare populară, centrată pe epoca pre-industrială, de evocare a trecutului ţăranilor. În ultimii 35 de ani au mai urmat şi alte asemenea mişcări dintre care, cea numită “sapă unde stai” (iniţiată în anii ’70), a avut ca ţel studierea trecutului muncitorilor în societatea industrializată, iar pentru a-şi desfăşura activitatea participanţii s-au organizat în grupuri individuale de studiu.
Urmare a acestor acţiuni de descoperire a elementelor culturale lăsate ca moştenire de clasa muncitoare putem astăzi număra în Suedia peste 800 de aşa numite muzee ale muncitorilor, muzee micuţe, deţinute de societăţi şi fundaţii. Asistăm astfel la fenomenul în care clasa muncitoare a dorit sa-şi descopere şi sa-şi înţeleagă trecutul şi valorile şi, mai mult, să-l povestească şi sa-l arate tuturor. Graţie acestor iniţiative avem astăzi, în Suedia, o extinsa activitate non-profit în domeniul patrimoniului cultural, activitate legata de vechile fabrici, căi ferate şi furnale.
Să nu uitam, totuşi, că înfiinţarea acestor mici muzee se datorează, în mare parte, şi puternicei poziţii pe care muncitorul suedez a avut-o în societate. Din nefericire, la nivelul altor grupuri sociale – săraci, vagabonzi – o iniţiativă similară este absentă, iar lipsa unei moşteniri culturale chiar şi la acest nivel contribuie la procesul marginalizării.
Inside and Outside the Cultural Heritage
From an ongoing discussion in Sweden
I will start with a short attempt to define the concept of cultural heritage. In Sweden the concept is no older than 100 years. But it was in the beginnings of 1990’s it became a collecting concept for museums, archives and the built heritage. Partly the introduction of the concept was due to a wish from the state government and other public authorities to create cooperation between the participants of the field of heritage, partly it was due to an ambition to construct a new field of politics.
To make my following discussion worthwhile I prefer to start at an anthropological standpoint when defining the concept of Cultural Heritage. A common definition of culture in this context revolves around common norms, values, perspectives and habits. Sometimes we talk about collective consciousness and systems of meanings and ways of organize experience. Cultural heritage is, in this meaning, not an artefact, nor a particular building. Cultural heritage is instead a category, as far as I understand, to which we can place or direct certain concrete phenomenons, to help and support histories of the past, the collective memories. We need sources and banisters to recollect, shape and give form to memories. That is why, I think, certain phenomenons are appointed heritage. That is why certain buildings and artefacts are given the status of heritage, a status that is particularly suited for remembering and the telling of certain events, persons, values or processes.
However, this is of course not the only try to define the concept of Cultural heritage. But I want to make my own position clear the Cultural Heritage is not a set of buildings and artefacts but a category that might be used to structure reality, that is, certain parts of reality. This definition will in the following serve as a starting point.
Cultural heritage is in this meaning not a fixed substance, not something out there in reality, ready to be heritage. It is a category whose content is the result of choices, negotiations and perhaps conflicts between different actors in the field of heritage. Some phenomenons seem to have permanent status as heritage. Some is part of the heritage for shorter periods. Further: the included phenomenons are not guaranteed certain interpretations. Thus: Cultural heritage cannot be presented as a permanent or fixed matter.
The choice of what should be part of the cultural heritage is due to what kind of history those who are able and who want to choose are interested in. From this follows that it is not possible to talk about one cultural heritage but of many that are constantly changing. In the same way as the history of a nation, region or a town can be told and retold in many ways due to who is telling, the cultural heritage differs due to whom is defining the heritage and the content of it.
For example: if the heritage and the telling is compiled or told from a gender perspective, the result will differ much from if it was told from a ethnic perspective. And, which is well known, one ethnic heritage is not necessarily the same as another.
Political uses of heritage
I will now proceed by treating some of this Swedish discussion, and focusing the political and ideological use of cultural heritage, its ideological and political utility value. The way it has been discussed and shaped in Sweden. I want to underline that what I have to say is valid for Sweden and not necessarily elsewhere.
One of the most traditional political aim with Cultural heritage is to create fellowship in society, for example concerning the Nation. In Sweden this was an outspoken purpose with the grand open-air museum Skansen (1891) and its relative, the museum of popular culture, Nordiska museet (1873). Both are situated in Stockholm, and were established to create and manage the sentiments for the nation, for Sweden, in the strive for creating a homogenous state, build of a certain measurement of consensus concerning what this nation is and what unites its citizens.
The Nordic museum as well as Skansen was built from collections from all of Sweden. At Skansen a collection of built environments from the pre-industrial age was erected. At the Nordic Museum artefacts and written memories were collected. It was particularly memories and artefacts from the peasants that was the base of the collections.
The province of Dalarna, in the Middle of Sweden, got a certain position as particularly Swedish. Maybe it was due to the fact that the peasant owned their land and that the proportion of unlanded people was relatively small. Here you couldn’t find any class-oriented conflicts as in other parts of Sweden. A picture of Dalarna was created with strong elements of an egalitarian peasant society, a picture that could stand as an ideal for the rest of Sweden. A picture built from permanent ethic and social values in contrast to the industrial society where the old social values, hierarchies and political system were thrown away. In contrast, the past represented something permanent, traditional and good. One should learn from that.
This is told because I want to give you an evident example on the use of cultural heritage. It is an example that shows the risk of the cultural heritage used as a mean to build a picture and tell a story about something that never was or a local relationship generalized into the concept of the nation. It is a picture of a peasant society that in Sweden was presented as if it was static and free from conflicts and unequalities. It is, of course, also an example of how heritage can be uses as a mean of power.
My point is not that the individual building or artifact should represent a false picture of its own history. My point is, that the collected picture of the Swedish history represented in these buildings, artefacts and memories includes a restricted part of the past and excludes other parts. It supports memories and histories of certain social groups and excludes others. The ideal picture is in this context in opposition to complexity. The ideal picture as something lacking of vertical historical depth, lacking from traces of time and social processes. In contrast to complexity where time and use is explicitly readable.
If we accept cultural heritage as a category which can be supplied with certain phenomenons – in our case buildings and artefacts – and at the same time is important for how we look at the nation, region and social groups, or has importance for peoples capacity to remember and to tell their stories from the past, then, I want to underline, the process of choosing and composition or assembly of heritage phenomenons become important to explore and to make conscious.
Whose is choosing what to become cultural heritage?
Whose history is possible and desirable to tell with help from cultural heritage?
Whose histories, memories and lifes are excluded from cultural heritage?
Which epochs are desirable? Which ones are not? The close past? The nation’s ancient past? The present elites past? Or what?
Cultural heritage is in this sense not only negotionable. It is also in focus for a struggle to control the past and history, in other terms a struggle of power.
A history of listed buildings
Let me give you an example from Sweden. As I worked for the Swedish government I carried out a small investigation on the listed historical buildings in Sweden, that is, buildings with the strongest possible protection in Sweden. My focus was on the last 150 years in Sweden and my question was: what kind of picture of these years would stand out if the listed buildings would serve as starting point for a history of the industrial era of Sweden? I did some countings. I put all the listed buildings together. And found what?
Well, what I did not find was a woman. They were almost completely out of the picture. A few furnaces and melting-houses, mills and sawmills gave representation to working class men. But the overall picture was strongly dominated by the economic elite. On the countryside you could tell a history, based on the built environment, of the nobility and privileged classes, that is, castles and country manors. I also found relatively high representation of industrial communities and wealthy farms from the 17th and 18th century. In this history the working people appeared as a kind of insignificant background.
If I laid focus on urban environments the bourgeois history appeared. Villas and the 19th century urban environment especially elaborated residential buildings dominated strongly. It wasn’t hard to get a view of the 19th and the early 20th Swedish history of elite architecture, its style and changes. Shortly, with few exceptions it was the history of the wealthy urban citizens that was possible to tell with the listed buildings as a starting point.
To sum up: If we let the listed buildings serve as a starting point with the purpose to tell the history of the industrial era in Sweden, we should get a very particular story of the wealthy Swedes. The working class, the blue collar groups or the underprivileged social segments would lack representation or only be visual in the very periphery.
There are several plausible explanations why the listed buildings support this picture of the history of Sweden. The most obvious and simple explanation is that poor people could not erect buildings that lasted long enough to be considered as heritage. However, it is my opinion that the collected listed buildings say something about the perspectives and aims included by the national heritage board and its officers. High architectural form and high age are the basic criterions to list a building, these criterions happen to coincide with the wealthy social groups of Sweden. Also, one should never forget that the collected listed buildings are a result from a cultural heritage sector that in Sweden were and are occupied by people from the wealthy middle class. People like us. And what is easier and more valuable and powerful than taking care of and show your own history?
The problem with this kind of representation is that a major part of the Swedish people is excluded from history. The working part of the nation has no or a very tiny part in this history. Especially the history of women is hard to grasp through the listed buildings as well as ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups as sick, poor and in other ways differing groups.
Aims of cultural politics
Now, the question is, if this should be considered a problem or not. And if so, in what way? I would definitely claim that it is a problem. In a democratic society where the citizens contribute to society in many ways, for example through paying taxes, I would say it is a matter of importance that as many as possible have access to their history. I am well aware that it is not possible to cover the history of a whole nation through the built heritage. However, the kind systematic and extensive gaps or black holes that I have given examples of are hard to motivate in a society, that is Sweden, which have aims in the official and governmental cultural politics including to
1)”level the social differences concerning the preservation of and access to the cultural heritage” and to
2) strengthen the interest for and the awareness of the meaning of cultural heritage in society.
The government also mentions the responsibility to visualize class differences as well as gender differences and differences between urbanized environments and the countryside.
These are the aspects of cultural politics. There are other and more traditional aspects on the role of cultural heritage in a democratic society. During the industrial era the cultural heritage has been an important instrument in building nations, for the strive to create a homogenous state built on a consensus what this state or nation is and what unites its citizens. I have already mentioned a few words about how the past became crucial in the building and the consolidating of the modern nation of Sweden in the 19th and 20th century. The cultural heritage and the history became a foundation of what we today call Swedishness. This fellowship is imagined in the sense of that its members only know and have met a few of the total amount of its members. Despite the local and regional spheres meaning and importance, the identification with the nation is still strong. This identification, the sense of belonging and being Swedish, is still an important part of the political system and life. To make a democracy work the citizens must find themselves a part of it. The citizen must, both rationally and emotionally, understand and accept democratic decisions. Decisions that perhaps mean disadvantages to the individual, but from a higher and common perspective, are obviously legitimate.
In this meaning the imagined fellowship of the nation is fundamental to the modern democracy. It is also an important and an urgent problem to the democracies of the 21th century. Especially as many of these democracies have chosen to move important decisions to Brussels and the European Union. In these democratic and ad grand political senses cultural heritage is of some importance, an importance of almost classical meaning since it has followed the tracks of the modern and industrialized nations.
In smaller and local contexts
However, it also possible to search the meaning of cultural heritage in smaller and local contexts. In Sweden the movement I mentioned earlier and the meaning and use of the past has been followed by a parallel popular movement in shape of societies of home district. This popular movement has been very much focusing the pre-industrial era, the past of the peasant society.
During the last 35 years other popular movements has emerged. As a late- or post-industrial equivalence to the home district movement we have seen a movement called dig where you stand. This movement was established in the 1970-s and took aim at workers own experiences and past in the industrialized society. To study these experiences and this past the participants are organized in self-study groups.
As one result of this workers heritage movement, we today can score approximately 800 so-called workers museums in Sweden. These are small museums owned by societies and foundations. Many of these museums have been established after the closing of the workplace. The workers have through buildings, artefacts and memories tried to understand their own past and what they have experienced. And they have established and institutionalised places of affection. That is the fundamental idea. Through establishing these museums the societies and foundations also have got opportunities to tell their histories to visitors and tourists. Through these initiatives we have today in Sweden an extensive local and non-profit activity in the field of cultural heritage, activities tied to former factories, railroads, blast furnaces, etc.
All these popular initiatives and movements deal with partly other aspects on the use of cultural heritage compared to the grand national projects. The popular movements deals with an aim to, through cultural heritage, seek understanding and clarity concerning experiences, individual as well as collective. We can also notice that these movements are active in general local politics, for example the survival and development of the village or community. Connected to the aims of the governmental politics of culture these activities are of utmost importance. These activities give rise to new, which are, former unknown tellings and stories of the past, other stories than those connected to the listed grand heritage.
On the other hand, we must consider the fact that the Swedish industrial worker by tradition has had a strong position in society, a position that made all these museums possible. We still lack similar initiatives that support the history of the poor, sick, homeless and other rejected social groups. The absence of such groups in cultural heritage risks to contribute to the process of rejecting and marginalisation. Differently expressed – and this I is my final point: to find oneself in the margins of society, as a rule, is equivalent to a non-existing position in cultural heritage.