Architecture & Political

Monuments and Monument Care. 

Monuments and monument care in Czechoslovakia and other Central European countries during the second half of the 20th century

Focus on approaches to monuments, the development of monument care, and crucial themes and key personalities in the field of heritage in Central European countries belonging with the East bloc after 1945. In many ways, the post-World War II period was a time of continuation of older concepts, but it was also an era with reconceptualization of approaches to monuments and shifts in meanings attributed to them. In society, law, expert discourse and local contexts, existing mechanisms were applied, along with new thinking about monuments, monument care and access to the past in general. After the experiences of the Second World War and Nazism, the Central European space of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and the eastern part of Germany was confronted with limited democracy and, until the end of the 1980s, with communist rule. The main objective of the paper is to place heritage care in historical perspective during the often turbulent political changes of the second half of the 20th century and hopefully draw some comparisons across national borders within the region of Central Europe. Contributions of a more general nature, those with broader interdisciplinary overlap, and works focusing on specific subject areas viewed through individual case studies will be welcomed. 

Continuity and discontinuity of cultural heritage of the past after 1945. Questions of importance for this paper include the following. Which older concepts of monument preservation retained influence in the second half of the 20th century and which did not? How did the state of research on monuments and monument care and its perspectives evolve? How did expert discourses and the ideological background of monument care develop? What changes were made in approaches to the protection of larger territorial units? Which personalities determined the development of monument care? How did (non-) existent legislation facilitate or complicate the protection of monuments? How can we describe and summarize the approach to cultural heritage after 1945? How did changes in monument care in authoritarian regimes compare to global developments? How did domestic monument care relate to international institutions and documents (e.g. the Venice Charter, UNESCO, etc.)? How have the priorities for the protection of monuments changed from the end of 1945 to 1989? How were these goals achieved and what problems did monument-care authorities face? How did the theoretical or rhetorical realm differ from the practical performance of monument care? How did authoritarian regimes shape the practice of monument care? How did the understanding of the social uses of monuments change after 1945? How did access to the cultural heritage of the past as a whole and its individual segments change in this context? What policies of memory and what types of re-labelling did postwar states have in relation to monuments associated with divergent historical traditions (for example: aristocratic castles and chateaus or sacral church objects)? How did the development of technology and the media change representations of monuments for professionals and the lay public? What was the role of monuments in public space? What role did economics play? What do different treatments of immovable and movable cultural objects tell us about the history of monuments and heritage care in Central Europe after 1945?


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