A cultural project encompassing teaching, research, activism, co-creation, community memory, and lived experience conducted within DPU and with partners globally.
11 January 2021
Living heritage is a concept that has come out of critical heritage studies, where scholars noted that ‘heritage’ is a constructed ‘status’ based on exclusion, selection, and particular forms of representation of the past. Heritage construction has often focused on the built form, at the expense of leaving out intangible heritage and everyday life of communities.
Critical heritage studies have pushed for broadening ideas of heritage and in particular understandings of intangible heritage, encouraging recognition of continuity as well as mutability of communities and practices. In exploring living heritage in Latin America and South East Asia we bring together diverse teams, networks, and even temporalities, borrowing from principles of comparative urbanism to decolonize the notion of ‘heritage’ by reframing it as a process grounded in the everyday practices of communities.
Image credit: Dubian Monsalve, Mapa frágil de la esperanza
Yangon Stories. Framing Living Heritage as Tool to Prevent Spatial violence
Yangon Stories aims to frame the potentials of a living heritage approach to informal settlements to challenge existing dynamics of spatial violence in Yangon in order to mobilize more inclusive urban planning practices. This project brings a unique perspective to the intersections of heritage, violence and dignity by linking spatial violence trajectories with situated storytelling about heritage-making. We view forms of contestation and agency of informal dwellers facing evictions and resettlement as counter practices of living heritage.
In this project we aim to:
- Foster multi-disciplinary and collaborative research designed to transform understanding of the causes, impacts and legacies of spatial violence;
- Develop relevant collections of archival, oral, ethnographic and other sources, from policymakers, women’s groups, communities, and local leaders;
- Develop theoretical frameworks and methodological innovations to contribute substantive insights into heritage-making practices as forms of countering violence, informing broader understandings of community-led conflict prevention strategies.
Development Planning Unit: Dr. Catalina Ortiz - PI; Dr. Giovanna Astolfo; Prof. Camillo Boano; Dr. Elizabeth Rhoads; Asia Myanmar Research Institute (AMRI): Phyo Wai; Dr. Phyo Win Latt; David Ney. Inya Institute: Dr. Francois Tainturier; Dr. Maxime Boutry; Women for the World: Van Lizar; Shoko Sakuma; Marina Kolovou-Kouri.
Funding: The project is funded by British Academy through its Heritage, Dignity and Violence programme, https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/projects/heritage-dignity-violence-framing-living-heritage-tool-prevent-spatial-violence/
- Main activities
Kickstart Workshop – February 3-7, 2020
DPU Fellowships 2020
Naiara Yumiko Murakami Dutra da Costa. Building epistemic designs: decolonial cartography as a tool to subvert forced evictions infrastructure
Forthcoming (2021) Trajectories of spatial violence in Southeast Asian cities. Regional Survey. DPU Working Paper Series, London. ISSN:
Rhoads, E (2020) Property, Citizenship, and Invisible Dispossession in Myanmar's Urban Frontier. Geopolitics. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14650045.2020.1808887
Astolfo, G., Boano, C. (2020) ‘Unintended Cities’ and Inoperative Violence. Housing Resistance in Yangon, Planning Theory & Practice, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14649357.2020.1778774?journalCode=rptp20
Rhoads, E. (2020) Informal (Justice) Brokers: Buying, Selling, and Disputing Property in Yangon. In Everyday Justice in Myanmar in Transition, edited by Helene Kyed. Copenhagen: NIAS Press. https://www.niaspress.dk/book/everyday-justice-in-myanmar/
Ortiz, C., & Lipietz, B. (Eds.). (2020). Grounded Learning: people-centred approaches to housing in Yangon and Yogyakarta. London: University College London. https://issuu.com/dpu-ucl/docs/2020-05-16_grounded_learning_2018-2019
On Yangon urbanism, informal settlements, heritage, housing, spatial violence and history
ADB. Financing Affordable Housing in Yangon, 2019. https://www.adb.org/publications/financing-affordable-housing-yangon
Boutry, Maxime. “Migrants Seeking out and Living with Floods: A Case Study of Mingalar Kwet Thet Settlement, Yangon, Myanmar.” In Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia, 42–62. Routledge, 2017. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/36475838/Migrants_seeking_out_and_living_with_floods_A_case_study_of_Mingalar_Kwet_Thet_settlement_Yangon_Myanmar
Campbell, Stephen. “Of Squatting amid Capitalism on Yangon’s Industrial Periphery.” Anthropology Today 35, no. 6 (December 2019): 7–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12539
Clarke, Margaret. “The Issues of Migrant Workers in Dagon Myo Thit (Seik Kan) Township, Yangon. – Women For The World,” 2016. http://womenfortheworld.net/2016/08/the-issues-of-migrant-workers-in-dagon-myo-thit-seik-kan-township-yangon/.
Patrimonio Vivo, Medellin
How to frame self-built neighborhoods in Medellin as living heritage? What type of socio-spatial strategies can be imagined to respond to urban transformation? This teaching based project focuses on exploring living heritage through four thematic lenses: a) care systems, b) memory, migration and displacement, c) landscapes of recycling, and d) community communication. The main site of inquiry, Moravia, has been the laboratory of spatial interventions and has endured long-term eviction threats. The project wishes to rethink different urban futures for Moravia through a living heritage approach as a way to respond to those threats.
Every year, for four weeks, international students alongside partners and local communities, explore the vast spectrum of political issues working in the multidimensional field of urban development and socio-cultural heritage and investigate specific design strategies and interventions within existing governance structures and processes. In 2020, students worked alongside communities in Moravia, Medellin, Colombia.
- Team/Learning alliance
- Main activities
Broadcasting: Moravia and its living heritage – May 21, 2020
Launch of the Atlas – June 5th 2020
- Ortiz, C, Burgos, M.J. Y. (eds) (2020) Living Heritage Atlas | Atlas de Patrimonio Vivo: A Tool to Rethink Moravia's Future | Una Herramienta para Repensar el Futuro de Moravia https://archive.org/details/atlas-patrimonio-vivo-moravia-futuro/mode/2up
Song: Sueno de Dignidad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeFBxBYsAFo&feature=emb_title