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Agonistic Interpretation


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Paper presented at the 'Crossing Borders' Spring Event of Interpret Europe, 21st May 2017.

Published in: Environment
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Agonistic Interpretation

  1. 1. Agonistic Interpretation Proposal for a New Paradigm of Interpretation DR NICOLE DEUFEL
  2. 2. The World in 2017
  3. 3. Antagonism • ‘constitutive’ of all political systems • conflicts that have ‘no rational solution’ • consensus impossible • participants as ‘enemies’ Chantal Mouffe ©Stephan Röhl - flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
  4. 4. Hegemony • dominant views create a hegemonic order • a ‘contingent articulation of power relations… • … that lacks an ultimate rational ground‘ • other possibilities exist that may be actualized Chantal Mouffe ©Stephan Röhl - flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
  5. 5. Critique of Liberalism • rationality: the ‘belief in...universal consensus based on reason‘, and • belief in ‘objectivity‘ • Individualism: rejects collective identities • views blurring of political parties as democratic progress • rejects those who disagree Chantal Mouffe ©Stephan Röhl - flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
  6. 6. Authorized Heritage Discourse • a ‘professional discourse’ • privileges ‘expert values and knowledge’ and ‘material manifestations’ • focus on conservation of the material and educating the public • views people as empty and passive vessels regards heritage • legitimizes professional heritage practice and disenfranchises non-specialist practices
  7. 7. Interpretation AHD • specialists as holding central knowledge • interpreters as ‘middlemen’ and ‘translators’ • interpretation as a form of education of the public • ’making connections’ and ‘making meaning’ • promotes a theme as the ’main idea’ • aims to elicit a ‘desired response’ Freeman Tilden ©National Park Service
  8. 8. Challenges to the AHD and IAHD • non-material (intangible) heritage values • dissonant heritage • dialogical heritage and connectivity ontologies • migration: integration vs. assimilation Uluru. ©Stuart Edwards. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
  9. 9. Agonistics • accepts conflict as fact • those holding opposing views are ‘adversaries’ • adversaries agree on ‘liberty and equality for all’ • adversaries ‘recognize the legitimacy of the demands of their opponent’ • ‘agonistic public spaces’ Chantal Mouffe ©Stephan Röhl - flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
  10. 10. Agonistic Interpretation Foundation: • accepts plurality and conflict of opinions as a given • does not believe in objectivity, but does believe in fact • acknowledges the existence of a dominant hegemony
  11. 11. Agonistic Interpretation Foundation: • sees the world as political • rejects material understandings of heritage in favour of dialogical heritage • sees ’visitors’ as knowledgeable equals
  12. 12. Agonistic Interpretation Aim: • none.
  13. 13. Agonistic Interpretation Outcomes: • makes visible different perspectives and opposing views • creates infrastructures for agonistic debates
  14. 14. Agonistic Interpretation Approach: • starts with heritage (stakeholder) studies • collects all values associated with a heritage • continually looks for what is missing in its representations
  15. 15. Agonistic Interpretation Approach: • seeks methods to show all values, as equally as possible • uses good communication techniques • offers opportunities for people to participate, contribute and enter into an exchange of views
  16. 16. The Future
  17. 17. Any questions? Post a comment on or tweet @NicoleDeufel.