For the upcoming biannual conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, I’ll present the paper “Competing on different grounds? Norway on the World Heritage Committee”.
Abstract: Competitive internationalism takes different forms depending on a state’s sense of self and its position in international society. These contrasts are vividly displayed in states’ attitudes and ways of participating in regimes of recognition such as the World Heritage Convention. In this paper, attention is directed to one of the smaller States Parties of the convention: Norway. Its unusual position entering the 2017 committee election warrants interest: Norway announced that if elected, it would not put forward any nominations during its tenure. Thus, the decision breaks with the well-established pattern wherein nominations and committee tenures tend to converge, statistics Norway forms part of until now. As a result, it is pertinent to ask what motivated this move: Why take a clear stance against common practice? Why choose to compete on different grounds? Carvalho and Neumann’s (2015) explorative Small states seeking status: Norway’s quest for international standing, serves as a lens to theorise Norway’s position: How does the decision fit with the idea that small states seek status by being acknowledged as ‘good powers’? That is, seeking to achieve status by making itself useful to great powers, taking on responsibilities, resolving confined yet important issues. Finally, by historicizing the decision, drawing on archival records and oral history, the question of break versus continuity can be approached: Looking back through Norway’s previous committee priorities and actions, the decision may be seen as a means for Norway to reassert itself as a morally-attentive and just player on the international conservation scene.
Interested in learning more: The paper provides an opportunity to present part the on-going project on the Norwegian World Heritage history which I am conducting with Jessica Phelps. We have already published an article on the topic in the International Journal of Cultural Policy and done some blog entries sciencenordic.com and forskning.no. At the ACHS conference I will also present a paper on Australia’s resistance to World Heritage In Danger Listings with Luke James and Evan Hamman.