Darkness is a complex concept. In a real and a metaphorical sense it invites contemplation and imagination of the sad, the unknown, the fearful and unwholesome desires. At the same time it is thrilling and strangely attractive, playing with deep and persistent cultural and metaphysical tensions of good and evil, right and wrong. Darkness provides space for hiding but also for exploration; it holds the potential for acceptance, forgiveness, or reconciliation for the haunted. Despite our apparent fear of the dark and the risks it hides, it nonetheless holds a powerful fascination which is evident in many aspects of popular culture.
Over recent years there has been tremendous interest in ‘dark heritage’ and associated ‘dark tourism,’ but still we struggle with the powerful attraction of the darkness, the thrill it can provide and where (and if) we draw boundaries around its commodification, its representation and the experiences we seek from it.
Many forms of heritage function as a materialization of darkness and what it represents and offer ways of exploring how societies/communities deal with complex moral and emotional issues. Heritage sites and associated events/activities reflect both historical and fictional trauma and can act in illuminating and reconciliatory ways. Dark narratives also may be held on to so as to deliberately obscure and hide. And we may play with, parody and test public sensibilities and capitalize on the idea of the thrill.
What are the multiple relationships we have with the concept of darkness with reference to the legacies we create from it? How is darkness expressed through the widely framed notion of heritage? How do we experience, negotiate, represent, commodify, valorize or censor the heritages of darkness? What and where is the thrill of the darkness and how is it negotiated across cultures, generations and gender? Why does the dark fascinate us so?
You are invited to come over and talk about any aspect of your work that engages “dark matters” in the broadest, truly most open sense. Or just listen to what others say. Please come!
Mattias Frihammar (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior lecturer in Ethnology at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender studies at Stockholm University and the coordinator of the Stockholm University Bachelor program in Museums and Heritage. He is interested in:
- heritages in a broad sense, right now with a special focus of the heritagization of the material and immaterial remnants of the Cold War period in Sweden
- social and cultural constructions of death, including funeral practices, cemeteries, rituals, beliefs, emotions
- how flora and fauna are framed within a broad notion of heritage with special focus on attitudes and practices that concerns invasive species
Lars Kaijser (email@example.com) is Associate Professor in Ethnology at Department of Ethnology, History of Religion and Gender Studies. For some years he has been doing research on public aquariums around the world, focusing on how nature is staged and presented (both as narrative and as actual dioramas), and how these establishments use and perform science as entertainment. The heritage aspect in this case has to do with environmental changes: how is the historical “natural” state of nature represented in the displays? How can we (humans) preserve phenomena and environments of the past for the future? This also incorporates presentation of older beliefs and insights when understanding nature and environmental issues. This project is connected to a long scholarly traditions focusing how nature is staged in natural history museums, and how notions of nature have been intertwined with ideas about the nation. Other interests:
- Popular music studies as cultural heritage and as used in the field of tourism and leisure. In this area - among other things – studies of Beatles tourism in Liverpool, the international interest in Swedish 70th progg-music, and pop-rock exhibitions.
- Practices of managing invasive species, especially in relation to notions of cultural heritage and bio/cultural-diversity.
Maja Lagerqvist (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior lecturer in the department of Human Geography. She is interested in:
- The transformations, uses and conceptions of places in the not so far off past and in the present (she has conducted research on places such as small scale farms since 1850, cottages and heritage places),
- second-home usage within families (and the common conflicts following that)
- mobility/immobility in teenagers everyday traveling and being
- built heritage (values, uses, meaning, representation and so on)
- invasive species and the ideas and practices around that
Fredrik Krohn Andersson (email@example.com) is senior lecturer in Art History and Heritage Studies at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics. His research interests include:
- Critical architectural historiography
- Processes of heritagization of nuclear power
- Processes of heritagization of Cold War in Sweden