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Wandering Heritage

Patrimoines vagabonds

Cultural routes and heritage in the move

Routes culturelles et itinéraires patrimoniaux

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Published on Wednesday, March 22, 2023


For a long time associated with the place or the closed space of a territory that contains it and that it emblematizes, heritage has never ceased to be mobile. It is what passes through time, what passes from generation to generation. It is transformed from generation to generation. It is also the shadow of every traveler, accompanying him or her in the territories s/he travels through, distinguishing him/her from what surrounds him/her.


University of Toulouse – Jean Jaurès, Maison de la recherche | 23rd and 24th November 2023


For a long time associated with the place or the closed space of a territory that contains it and that it emblematizes, heritage has never ceased to be mobile. It is what passes through time, what passes from generation to generation. It is transformed from generation to generation. It is also the shadow of every traveler, accompanying him or her in the territories s/he travels through, distinguishing him/her from what surrounds him/her.

But heritage is now mobile in a completely different sense. It has ceased to be the simple collection of objects, monuments, knowledge, social practices stabilized in time. It now integrates the plurality of relationships and affects that objects, monuments, knowledges, or social practices mobilize for a diversity of persons. It is lodged in the ways of doing, thinking or saying the element of attachment and thus introduces an extreme diversity of ways of being of the heritage. Now, if the heritage is more in the relationship than in the elements that are put in relation, then to describe a heritage element amounts to give an account of the complexity of the modes of attachment to it: from the passionate to the indifferent, from the cultural entrepreneur to the tourist in a hurry, from the expert to the amateur, and from its guardian to its destroyer, if necessary.

But the opening of the heritage to this very wide range of relationships to elements qualified, by some people, as heritage, also suggested that it could free itself from the spaces in which it had been initially seized, following in this the stakeholders who move without losing their relationship to it, even by seeking to activate or reactivate it in the displacement itself. This phenomenon gave rise to the first "cultural routes", the principle of which was discussed in international cultural bodies as early as the 1960s, but which only took on real substance in the 1990s within ICOMOS, following the inclusion of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela on the World Heritage List.

At the center of many definitional debates since that time, the "cultural route" is nevertheless unanimously accepted in the world of heritage intervention (at UNESCO as well as at the Council of Europe) as an instrument for building a common world of exchanges, shared values and creativity, based on a set of tangible and material elements, but also intangible elements that build the additional value of the route compared to the simple sum of the parts that constitute it. Now, these routes are "cultural" only insofar as they constitute experiences of a crossing of territories, but also of times and cultures. They construct conditions of encounters, tangible or intangible, with others more or less different, with relatives more or less similar.

How are these considerations, elaborated in the arenas of international cultural diplomacy, received, acclimatized and mobilized by the numerous stakeholders who, in different territories, and in particular in rural areas, shape together these shared heritages that take the form of itineraries, routes, more or less used, more or less materialized? To what extent does the added value of these "cultural routes" lead the stakeholders in the territories to make a project, to "make a road" between elements that were not strongly related but that shared “something”? In what way, on the other hand, will real paths, effectively taken and charged with time and affects, be marked out and marked out with elements that will enhance their character as "cultural routes"?

These questions are, directly or indirectly, taken in charge by stakeholders who, with different abilities, animate these wandering heritages during their "circulation" on their territory. They can be large mechanisms or legal entities (the Code du patrimoine in France, the Ministry of Culture, the deconcentrated services of this sector locally, local authorities, parcs naturels régionaux, tourist offices, and so on), as well as real people who, individually or collectively, contribute to the existence, management, development and promotion of these heritages.

Within the framework of the GIS “Patrimoine en partage”, our attention has been particularly directed towards the latter type of stakeholders, when it comes to questioning the construction, the transmission and the dissemination of heritage knowledge. What types of collectives are mobilized and around what objectives? And implemented on which rhetoric? How do we decipher the processes of developing their projects and their sustainability? What kind of exchanges do these stakeholders, together or in isolation, have with all the ecosystem participants of a heritage element such as a road or a cultural route? From identification and advocacy, to mediation and promotion, to defense and safeguarding (without neglecting the controversies but also the indifferences and weak temporalities of these processes), none of the moments and none of the forms of crystallization of these wandering heritages should be neglected.

The symposium “Wandering Heritage” will thus be open to theoretical and methodological reflections aimed at strengthening the understanding of the relationships between heritage and routes, between heritage and mobility. But, above all, it will pay special attention to case studies that will have focused mainly on the individuals and groups involved in such schemes or approaches. These case studies may also cover concrete cultural routes (more or less spectacular or historic roads: chemins de Saint-Jacques, US Route 66, Stevenson’s Path…) as well as imagined routes and roads that unite homogeneous goods, build archipelagos of elements that are similar, connect elements of the same network or “world” which thus acquires additional visibility (wine routes, routes of crafts…). And the reciprocal permeability of these registers will be ensured by examining the intermediate situations (from when or from what a route is a road?), the ways in which the actual road are also imagined and loaded with sites and nodes that construct a “series” and a world on the one hand, and on the other hand the ways in which heritage and/or cultural routes contribute to the (re)nomination of places and thus to the change of some of their public meanings. Toponomastic suppressions, creations or modifications may take place in this context, pursuing moral, symbolic, political, or economic objectives.

Submission guidelines

Proposals for contributions (title and abstract up to 1,000 words, including bibliographical references, in French or English) are expected

by April 21, 2023.

They should be submitted to the coordinators, Nicolas Adell (nicolas.adell@univ-tlse2.fr) and Sébastien Rayssac (sebastien.rayssac@univ-tlse2.fr) before the deadline. A short bio-bibliographical notice of the author, as well as his/her contact details and institutional affiliation, will be welcome.

The Scientific Committe will establish the list of selected proposals by May 31, 2023. All proposals received will be notified of the outcome of the selection process.

The papers presented at the symposium are intended to become chapters of a book, Wandering Heritage. We will expect to receive these chapters at the end of January 2024. They will be subject to a double blind peer-reviewed evaluation.

Scientific committee

  • Nicolas Adell, Professor of social anthropology, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès / UMR LISST
  • Chiara Bortolotto, helder of the UNESCO’s Chair « Living heritage and sustainable development », UMR Héritages
  • Gaetano Ciarcia, Senior Researcher in social anthropology, CNRS / UMR Imaf
  • Bernard Debarbieux, Professor of geography, Université de Genève
  • Cyril Isnart, Researcher in social anthropology, CNRS / UMR Idemec
  • Sébastien Rayssac, Professor of geography, Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès / UMR LISST
  • Sylvie Sagnes, Researcher in social anthropology, CNRS / UMR Héritages
  • Xosé Manuel Santos Solla, Professor of geography, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela / TEAM


  • Nicolas Adell (LISST – Centre d’anthropologie sociale)
  • Sébastien Rayssac (LISST – Dynamiques rurales)


  • Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès - Maison de la Recherche - 5 allée Antonio Machado
    Toulouse, France (31)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Friday, April 21, 2023


  • patrimoine, route culturelle, itinéraire patrimonial, acteur, territoire, médiation


  • Sébastien Rayssac
    courriel : sebastien [dot] rayssac [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr
  • Nicolas Adell
    courriel : nicolas [dot] adell [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Sébastien Rayssac
    courriel : sebastien [dot] rayssac [at] univ-tlse2 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Wandering Heritage », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1ary

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