EAUH Conference 2018


Session M34. When Local Wishes to Become Global: Heritagization Strategies of Small Towns and Little Places in Remote Regions (20th and 21st centuries)

Coordinators: Blanca Del Espino Hidalgo (, Luda Klusakova (

Regardless of their quantity, the small places in shadow of big cities and metropolises, remain a distinct feature in the image of European Culture. While large urban sprawls, with their concomitant suburban malls, highways, skyscrapers, and the like, may seem to lack individuality when compared globally, small towns, on the contrary, retain specific spatial organization, forms of social life, including face-to-face contact, and engender variety of regional types (P. Clark ,European Cities and Towns (400–2000). Oxford 2009.). If we disregard demographic and economic criteria, small towns are classified as those that maintain their traditions and cultural identity, as opposed to large towns where the focus is on the future with, in consequence, a progressive loss of direct bond to the past. The first are categorized as “societies of memory”, the second as “societies of change” (D. Hervieu-Léger). Such an interpretation, however, suggests a rather gloomy prognosis for the future of small towns, on the other hand we find that in small communities there is rooted the mobilization capacity and social and psychological importance of their tangible and intangible heritage, as well as the ability of creating territorial networks on a creative and innovative basis (P. L. Knox, H. Mayer, Small Towns Sustainability: Economic, Social, and Environmental Innovation, Birkhäuser 2009). Small places often aware of the unique value of their tangible heritage, attempt to play with it, with more or less success, in their development strategies. The same role may attain the intangible heritage linked to the territory or the inherited goods that have not been traditionally assessed but embody their ties to the land, like minor or vernacular architecture, agricultural heritage or transition landscapes. What are the reasons - cultural policies biased to big cities, fragmented heritage practices or absence of research on small towns? Shortage of resources, limited capacities and knowledge in small towns and peripheral regions? The objective of the session is to categorize the variety of representational strategies of multi-level value of small towns’ heritage, including intangible heritage and traditional economic practices, to explore links among heritage experts and other relevant stakeholders on national and transnational level with actors in local communities, regional bodies and cross border projects, to highlight the overlooked and identify good and bad practices, and bottlenecks.
We invite to discuss:
• Places undervalued, not fully exploited, or in danger because of lack of appreciation from the core region (lack of investment in preservation, natural disasters, less populated areas, impact of large infrastructural works - dams, tunnels, bridges, etc.).
• Choosing strategies or submerging to the path of revitalization, stabilization, stagnation, decline, desertification – and the possible role of heritage.
•Small towns´ creativity in networking initiatives.
Keywords: small towns; tangible heritage; intangible heritage; heritage resilience; public use of heritage, revitalization strategy