The Janus-face of European heritage: Revisiting the rhetoric of Europe-making in EU cultural politics

Elisabeth Niklasson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Heritage sites and their stewards have been part of the project of European integration since the 1970s. Countless actions involving conservation, research and public outreach has been granted EU funding based on the European significance' of monuments and sites or the European added value' of project activities. This article argues that out of the long relationship between EU cultural politics and the domain of tangible heritage, there has grown a parallel approach to European belonging. By tracing acts of Europe-making in political statements used to justify financial support, and discussing their effect on co-funded archaeological projects, a Janus-face is identified. One side places authority in the past, articulating a European commonality through site characteristics or time periods. The other places authority in the present, promoting a more flexible understanding of heritage. Since the EU has increasingly (and unwillingly) come to share the rhetorical figure of European heritage' with anti-immigration groups calling for solidarity among native Europeans', the question of which side takes precedence is of great consequence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-162
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date15 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Politics of belonging
  • Europeanisation
  • funding
  • archaeology
  • heritage values


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