Heritage-making and Democratic Ideals in Albania: Spaç Prison as a Site of Dialogue

Eaton, Jonathan, Bllaci, Mirian, Petri, Nedi, Hadžić, Lejla and Mamani, Elena (2018) Heritage-making and Democratic Ideals in Albania: Spaç Prison as a Site of Dialogue. In: ICOMOS 19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium "Heritage and Democracy", 13-14th December 2017, New Delhi, India. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract (in English)

Today, more than 25 years after the fall of Albania’s Communist regime, the country is engaged in a struggle over how to deal with its Communist past. For decades, Albania had not taken the steps that many other transition countries have gone through: opening the secret police files; initiating a truth and reconciliation commission; undertaking a concerted effort to find and identify the bodies of those who had forcibly disappeared; or reinterpreting the art and artefacts of Albanian Communism through a reflexive gaze. Within this context, sites of memory, such as Spaç Prison, have taken on a particularly important role in shaping the discussion over memory and heritage-making for Albania’s recent past. Originally a mine, Spaç Prison developed into a notorious political prison and forced labour camp, modelled after the Stalinist gulags. It is the only such site to be listed as a protected cultural heritage site in Albania. The current presence of a mining company at Spaç Prison adds to the complexity—raising tensions between the original purpose of the site (plus the region’s need for economic development) and its history as a place of persecution. Underlying these tensions is the recognition that heritage-making involves a constant struggle over whose stories and pasts are acknowledged and how. Since 2014, the NGO Cultural Heritage without Borders–Albania (CHwB-Albania) has been engaging as wide a range of stakeholders as possible in a long-term process to develop Spaç Prison into a place of dialogue. This dialogue and human rights-based approach recognizes that the conservation, interpretation and adaptive reuse of a site are all reliant on how the site becomes ‘heritage.’ Our paper demonstrates how the heritage-making processes surrounding sites of persecution/atrocity/memory such as Spaç Prison have important implications for the promotion of human rights and democratic ideals in Albania today.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors:
AuthorsEmail
Eaton, JonathanUNSPECIFIED
Bllaci, MirianUNSPECIFIED
Petri, NediUNSPECIFIED
Hadžić, LejlaUNSPECIFIED
Mamani, ElenaUNSPECIFIED
Languages: English
Keywords: albania; dialogue; reconciliation; democracy; conflict; rights; balkans; cultural heritage; eastern europe; communism; cold war; soviet; Spaç Prison; heritage-making; memory
Subjects: D.URBANISM > 04. Rehabilitation
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 07. Management
G.DETERIORATION > 04. Effects of deterioration
L.PRESENTATION AND TRANSMISSION OF HERITAGE > 02. Interpretation
P. GEOGRAPHIC AREAS > 05. Europe
National Committee: ICOMOS
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 19th General Assembly, New Delhi, 2017
Depositing User: intern icomos
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2018 10:03
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2018 16:12
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[Accessed 30 Oct. 2017].

CHwB–Albania. (2017) Making a Place for Dialogue: Results from the Spaç Prison Focus Groups. [pdf]

Cultural Heritage without Borders - Albania. Available at: http://chwb.org/albania/Publication/making-aplace-for-dialogue-results-from-the-spac-prison-focus-groups/

[Accessed 30Oct. 2017].

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Available at:http://psf.ong/projet/images/publications/dossiersthems/pdf_Dossier_-_Spac_-_Albanie_-

_patrimoine_moderne1.pdf[Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, (resolution 217 A), adopted 10 December 1948.
URI: http://openarchive.icomos.org/id/eprint/1977

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