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Borders of Belonging

Borders of Belonging: Experiencing History, War and Nation at a Danish Heritage Site

Mads Daugbjerg
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 212
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  • Book Info
    Borders of Belonging
    Book Description:

    In an era cross-cut with various agendas and expressions of national belonging and global awareness, "the nation" as a collective reference point and experienced entity stands at the center of complex identity struggles. This book explores how such struggles unfold in practice at a highly symbolic battlefield site in the Danish/German borderland. Comprised of an ethnography of two profoundly different institutions - a conventional museum and an experience-based heritage center - it analyses the ways in which staff and visitors interfere with, relate to, and literally "make sense" of the war heritage and its national connotations.Borders of Belongingoffers a comparative, in-depth analysis of the practices and negotiations through which history is made and manifested at two houses devoted to the interpretation of one event: the decisive battle of the 1864 war in which Otto von Bismarck, on his way to uniting the new German Empire, led the Prussian army to victory over the Danish. Working through his empirical material to engage with and challenge established theoretical positions in the study of museums, modernity, and tourism, Mads Daugbjerg demonstrates that national belonging is still a key cultural concern, even as it asserts itself in novel, muted, and increasingly experiential ways.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-977-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction. Borders of Belonging: Investigating Landscapes of Danishness Today
    (pp. 1-16)

    The white and modest-looking Dutch-style windmill on Dybbol Hill has come to be regarded as an icon of Danishness. Its geographical location at the crux of Denmark’s most important historical battlefield, and its history of repeated ruination by enemy fire and subsequent reconstruction, have secured the mill the status of an emblem of Danish loyalty, sacrifice and steadfastness. It marks the scene of the scene of the defeat of the Danish army at the hands of Otto von Bismarck’s Prussians in 1864, and the loss of lives, land and Danish dreams of European power. Although, seen from an international perspective,...

  6. Chapter 1 Dybbøl and the Danish Nation: History and Context
    (pp. 17-46)

    ‘Dybbøl’ is not merely a place name describing a ridged slice of land some two kilometres west of the town of Sønderborg and giving name to a nearby village. It is, in Tim Edensor’s (1997: 178) terminology, a ‘memoryscape’, comprising ‘the organisation of specific objects in space, resulting from often successive projects which attempt to materialize memory by assembling iconographic form’. This chapter details the spatial, institutional and commemorative geographies of Dybbøl and outlines the history of this important Danish memoryscape.

    Below I provide a brief historical outline of the nineteenth-century events that lent Dybbøl its (national) fame and turned...

  7. Chapter 2 Out of Sight: Reconsidering the Modern Museum
    (pp. 47-76)

    At first glence the Sønderborg Caste Museum appers to an epitome of what Scott Lash has termed ‘high modernity’: a bastion of Enlightenment values and beliefs rooted in ‘the rationality of Cartesian space and Newtonian time’ (1999: 1). Here reason, objectivity and chronology seemingly come together to structure an unflinching ‘order of things’ (Foucault 1970) to be consulted and consumed visually by the public (see figure 2.1)

    This chapter is about the making and sustaining of such orders and rationalities. But it is also about why this is not a sufficient analytic perspective if we want to understand the realities...

  8. Chapter 3 The Banalities of Being Danish: National Identity at the Castle Museum
    (pp. 77-103)

    The war exhibitions of the Sønderborg Castle Museum were meant to unsettle and challenge ethnonational perceptions of the Danish nation. Seen from a curatorial perspective, the war wing served decidedly civic and informative purposes by explicating, as an undercurrent below its exhibits, the histories of different understandings of what it meant to be Danish in the period 1848–1945. Even though rarely explicitly stated, a fundamentally constructivist approach to nationhood and nationalism thus circumscribed the museum’s war galleries.

    However, such points on the ongoing construction of Danish identity were rarely recognized by visitors. Some even took the exhibitions to convey...

  9. Chapter 4 Sensing 1864 at the Battlefield Centre
    (pp. 104-130)

    At the Dybbøl Battlefield Centre of the time of my fieldwork, staff members were always keen to point out that theirs wasnota museum. Even though officially merged with the castle museum in 2004, the centre’s self-image hinged on distancing itself from conventional museum practice. The centre’s ‘reinforced Dybbøl story’ report from 1998, for instance, stated:

    Often, people term the battlefield centre a museum. But the centre has a different image of itself! (…) We consider ourselves a knowledge-educational activity centre (et videnpædagogisk aktivitetscenter), i.e. a centre in which we, by means of activities, provide insight into the past...

  10. Chapter 5 The Fate of the Nation at the Battlefleld Centre
    (pp. 131-155)

    Dybbøl is a spot deeply invested, historically, with Danish sentiment. Yet, I was struck by the degree to which staff members at the battlefield centre in 2006 strove to consciouslyavoidovert references to issues of national feelings or nationhood. This chapter is about this seeming paradox, about making sense of national heritage at a time when ‘the nation’ was widely taken to be a concept fraught with political incorrectness. Thus, it concerns the fate of the nation as a concept and as a somewhat outmoded, yet inescapable key theme in the day-to-day operation of the battlefield centre.

    The chapter...

  11. Chapter 6 Danish Heritage Today: Cosmopolitan Nationalism and the Reappearance of the Romantic
    (pp. 156-179)

    So far, I have been concentrating on the two main institutional settings of my fieldwork: the Sønderborg Castle Museum and the Dybbøl Battlefield Centre. My analyses have followed two distinct if often overlapping tracks, one concerned with changing communicationforms,the other focusing on the content of the heritage narratives. Regarding form – or what we may call the ‘how’ of heritage – I have explored the movement towards experiential, multisensory and participatory approaches, especially salient at the battlefield centre. Concerningcontent– the ‘what’ of heritage – my investigations have focused on the fate of ‘the nation’ and national belonging as a somewhat...

  12. Conclusion. Paradoxes of Modern Belonging: Reassembling Heritage, Nation and Experience
    (pp. 180-187)

    This book is about the making and remaking of national heritage. It is about the difference between classical museum exhibitions and newer experiential paradigms of relating to past events. And it is about the ways in which categories such as heritage and history come to take shape and take on meaning in and through social practice. As ‘hosts’ and ‘guests’ meet in ‘place’ to produce, consume and thereby coproduce narratives of nationhood and belonging, such encounters are framed and influenced by a complex web of contextual forces, including trends and representations in art, tourism, politics and mass media. Neumann has...

  13. Biblography
    (pp. 188-196)
  14. Index
    (pp. 197-202)