Contested Cultural Heritage - Contested Space. Discourses on the Museum Landscape in the Danish-German Border Region

Florian Greßhake
University of Kassel, Germany

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Ingår i: Current Issues in European Cultural Studies; June 15-17; Norrköping; Sweden 2011

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 62:22, s. 197-202

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Publicerad: 2011-11-22

ISBN: 978-91-7519-993-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Since the middle of the 19th century the Danish-German border region has been deeply influenced by shifting political spaces due to shifting borders in 1864 and 1920. But these incidents did not cause a change of the cultural-geographical spaces at the same time. On the contrary; it resulted in the development of different overlapping and competing regional and national memorial landscapes. The material cultural heritage in form of e.g. museums and their exhibitions became an important part of a national struggle for the border space.

This article focuses on the museum landscape of Sønderjylland/Schleswig and the discourses on cultural heritage which are connected to it. The interpretations of regional museum exhibitions on both sides of the border – and therefore the issue of cultural heritage in public space as well – are of central significance for the region´s history since the middle of the 19th century. It can be observed that the exhibitions dealing with regional history have been exploited for different political purposes again and again. Focused on the museum landscape of the region the article shows that there is a close relation between the concepts of “border”; “space” and “material cultural heritage”. I argue that this approach enables us to draw conclusions of the importance of supposedly peripheral regions for national and collective identities. Following historian Peter Sahlins who pleaded for analyzing borders from the perspective of the frontier and not the national centre; I emphasize that in particular the German-Danish border region and the struggle over it holds an important significance beyond regional dimensions and contributes to the forming of identity for the entire nation.


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