Events And Opportunities

CFP: Tangible_Intangible Heritage(s)_Design, Social and Cultural Critiques on the Past, Present and the Future

Place: University of East London

Dates: 14 – 15 June 2018

Abstracts: 01 April 2018    

Early Abstracts reviewed on a rolling basis from 01 Jan 2018. This allows international delegates time to arrange travel plans. 

This conference calls upon art and architectural historians, sociologists, cultural theoristsarchitectsplannersurban designers, to critique the urban conditions of the past with a view to informing the present.

Sample of themes: contemporary architecture and modes of production |  emerging forms in city planning  |  social and political history of urbanisation  globally |  representations of ‘the city’ in art  |  historic architecture as social text


In a time when the construction of New Towns is on the agenda in UK; when climate change threatens historic cities and landscapes in Asia; when the cultural industries turn our art and architectural history into economic models of development; when entire cities are being built from scratch across rural China; and socio-economic change is destroying industrial communities leaving people in the West in search for answers from politicians like of Donald Trump, what can we mean by ‘heritage’?

Our built environment of buildings, towns, cities and infrastructures are always, at inception, visions of a future. They also become – very quickly – the markings of the past. Framed as architectural history, these markings tend to be what we think of when discussing heritage. However, heritage is more than this. It is equally a question of artistic and media representations of the present and the past; the social milieus we destroy or reinforce as economies fade or grow; the societies we construct through varying forms of city governance; the artistic and political legacies we use as points of rupture in building the future.

Our buildings, towns, cities and their artistic and media representations then, are all visions of an aesthetic present. They are the realisation through design of what we can and wish to build. They are social constructions defining the way people live, think, develop and desire. They are economic contrivances marking out the interests of capital. They are expressions of knowledge and skills which can inform innovation. They are phenomena mediated equally by the arts, medias and actual experience. They are inevitably political at every level.

This conference suggests we cannot think of heritage in reductive terms, neither as isolated objects or images nor as a purely historic phenomenon. The decisions we take about this ‘heritage’ today are not only based on the past, they will inform the future.


In redefining heritage as a historic, artistic, design, media, social, political, and economic issue, this conference attempts to open up the concept to a reading that is interdisciplinary. In questioning these relationships over time, it seeks to understand the past in light of the present and identify creative ways of operating in a globalised future.

Within this framework, the conference welcomes international specialists who will ask their own questions about history and the present, and thus help redefine the perspective of others: artarchitectural and social historianscultural theorists, architectsplanners and urban designers. Examples of questions we expect to be asked include, but are not limited to:

What role did and will art and design economies have on city development? How do the arts and the media create and distort our vision of built and social urban heritage? How have and can we preserve the architecture of the past while building for the present? What happens to community and social bonds when cities are replanned? How do changing economic conditions alter how we build and live in cities? How has craftmanship and knowledge typically informed contemporary modes of production and work through innovative processes…..


We seek to explore definitions of ‘heritage’ by considering it from various angles: physical form, artistic formulation, political tool, social and media construct, economic reification and digital innovation. As a result, the conference welcomes presentations from specialists from multiple fields whose work overlaps with issues of heritage broadly defined: art historians, conservationists, architects, urban designers, cultural theorists, sociologists, artists, media and press historians, planners and more.

In this regard the event follows the expressly interdisciplinary dialogue set out by AMPS and the research and publication programme PARADE (Publication & Research in Art, Architectures, Design and Environments).

SAH 2018 St Paul Conference

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Foundation for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
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