Cultural Heritage and Identity – University of Copenhagen

Cultural Heritage and Identity

PhD course with Dr. Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, Cambridge

Keynote speaker:

Dr. Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, UK

Public Lecture

Heritage and Identity. Methodological Challenges within Critical Heritage Studies

Time & Venue: 10:15 - 12:00, room 27.0.17

Master Class

Critical Heritage Studies. Between Discourse and Materiality

Time & Venue: 13:00 - 16:00, room 10.2.05 at the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies

The Master Class will explore links between cultural heritage and identity formation, focusing on the role of the past in the present and how tangible and intangible heritage enter identity discourses. Cultural heritage contributes in varied and complex ways to identity construction, at the individual levels through self-identification as ’inheritors’ of particular cultural elements, over community and national levels, to global formulations of shared world heritage as part of our common identity as human beings. The concept of heritage is intimately linked to identity politics through processes of identifying what constitute ’heritage’ in particular contexts and through the politics of ’cultural heritage making’, creating connections between cultural heritage politics and identity formations at individual, local, national and global levels. Connections between peoples in the present and the past are thus operationalized by identifying those cultural elements which are to be inherited, rather than merely constituting historical objects, memorials or life-ways. Master class discussion points may include:


  • How identity politics constitute key ingredients in the transformation of elements from being simply historical objects, places, stories, etc. and into items of cultural heritage.
  • How cultural heritage is identified as heritage, and by whom, as well as how identification and use of heritage is closely linked with power, national discourses and nation-building.
  • How heritage constitute ways of thinking and talking about communities of people in space and time, related by shared cultural practices and conventions entering heritage production
  • How cultural heritage is associated with cultural narratives and practices, providing tangible or intangible spaces for performing processes of identity formation and expression.
  • How stakeholders with interest in and influence over formulations of heritage and identity construct cultural heritage out of narratives and material culture believed to be from the past.
  • How material culture as cultural heritage plays a dynamic role is creating and transforming social and cultural identities, rather than merely reflecting such identities.
  • How connections between materiality, discourse and local and global identity structures can be explored theoretically and methodologically through critical heritage studies.



At 10.15 am, there will a public lecture open to all by our keynote speaker, Dr. M.L. S. Sørensen, followed by a Q&A and general discussion session.

The public lecture will be followed, at 13.00, by a Ph.D. Master Class led by our keynote speaker. The Master Class is only open to those who have pre-registered, and will be limited to 15 participants. Two articles on relevant topics selected by the keynote speaker will be circulated to the registered participants in advance, providing background and discussion points for the Master Class. A reading list will also be provided as an introduction to the field. Participants are expected to present their work, and in discussions with the keynote speaker and the other participants, explore ways in which concepts of, and critical perspectives on, cultural heritage and identity might be worked into, or provide new perspectives on, their research.

Participants: Participants will be selected on the basis of their application file. The selected participants are asked to organise possible travel and accommodation at their own expense.

Requirements: Mandatory readings and active participation in seminar discussions. Participants are strongly encouraged to present part of their own dissertation projects relevant to the PhD seminar topic which will also result in a higher number of ECTS awarded: 2.8 ECTS for full participation with presentation, and 1.3 ECTS for full participation without presentation.

Application: short CV and PhD project abstract (250 words); for those interested in presenting their work, also an abstract of their presentation (250 words).

Cost: Participation in the course is free of charge. Coffee and a light lunch will be provided.

Venue: University of Copenhagen, South Campus, Faculty of Humanities.

Deadline for submission of applications: May 25, 2015. Please send the documents to the organiser: Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen (

About the keynote speaker: Dr. M.L.S. Sørensen current research is focused on the connection between identity and material culture. She has done extensive work on Bronze Age temperate Europe, investigating mechanisms enabling the development and maintenance of local traditions and the construction of various kinds of identities. Within archaeological theory, she has been involved with the development of gender archaeology, exploring ideas about the materialization of gender. Within heritage studies, she is especially interested in the role of the past in the present with particular focus upon nationalism and identity formation, exploring how tangible or intangible heritage is assigned value and is used in identity discourses. Her interests include working on the development of explicit methodologies for heritage studies.