Unsettling Heritage: Critical/Creative Conservation

“Unsettling Heritage” is a one-day student-run symposium exploring how methods of conservation are evolving and adjusting as the discipline expands into a range of areas not typically, or historically, associated with heritage conservation.

In recent years, challenges arising from new ideas and technologies have unsettled heritage conservation. Traditional architectural approaches to conservation are siting side by side with values-based community outreach and intangible heritage. Given these challenges in combination with unreliable resources, how can heritage conservation professionals approach today’s conservation creatively?

  • What has changed in the fields of heritage conservation and those related to it?
  • What challenges are we facing, and how are we reacting or adjusting to adapt?
  • As the field grows outward, how can we engage with groups who may not consider their work to be ‘heritage,’ such as social justice movements, DIY and re-purposing, and community archaeology?

“Unsettling” also alludes to dissonant Canadian heritage, and to heritage that is difficult to confront. Critical perspectives on our work and methods can help us to deal with complex and/or contested types of heritage and methods of conservation.

  • How can heritage conservation approach dissonant Canadian heritage?
  • How can heritage- and conservation-related disciplines grapple with Canada’s colonial heritage?
  • What role can heritage conservation play in ongoing social and political issues?

The 2015 symposium was a wonderful success, with over 80 attendees. Below are a few candid moments from the day-long event, captured beautifully by volunteer photographers.