Following the first, ‘Cultural Heritage as a Resource’ workshop between the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage (MCPHH) and the Leibniz University of Hannover held at Manchester Met (MMU) in February 2019, 8 researchers participated in the return visit to Lower Saxony in October and November. Over two days, colleagues from Hannover and Manchester cooperated in a workshop that combined presentations on new research, invigorating debate about the role of cultural heritage today, and avenues for future collaboration between the two centres.
While Contested Heritage was the central them of the workshop, so too was demonstrating the new links formed between researchers in both countries after the first seminar. Meeting in the newly refurbished and historic, Imperial Stables, Professor Dave Day (MMU) and Jana Stoklasa (Hannover) provided an examination of the role of sport in the construction of cultural elites in both the United Kingdom and Poland. Later, Dr Nick Piercey (MMU) and Raimund Lazar (Hannover) questioned the role of sporting spaces as cultural resources. Using historical research about the Dutch urban experience, the, somewhat, sceptical presentation started a lively debate among the group, which included MMU Professors Jon Stobart and Lloyd Strickland, Dr Tilman Frasch, as well as new PhD Candidate Tracey Boyce.
The influence of the past in the present and the concerns of the present in our understanding of the past was a constant thread throughout the two days. Following researchers from Hannover outlining their current and future research plans, MMU’s Dr Faye Sayer and PhD candidate Amy Luck spoke about their ongoing international research in the field of cultural heritage and its interaction with the concept of wellbeing in contemporary society. Together, the workshop provided the opportunity to think about the past and present, but also to reflect on the future, on the potential for collaborative projects between MMU and Hannover University and, more importantly, on how research into Cultural Heritage can help increasingly diverse, fragmented and plural societies.
Academic debate was added to by the warm hospitality of the hosts and a series of ‘extra-curricular’ opportunities. The tour of the Welfenschloss(a former castle now housing the main university building) not only gave the MMU contingent an opportunity to consider how Cultural Heritage can serve different purposes in time, but also the chance to develop some outlandish plans for MMU’s Oxford Road campus (Note: Planning Application and funding request to follow!) On the final day, the closure of many of central Hannover’s top sights, owing to a regional memorial commemoration of the Protestant Reformation (more cultural heritage!), did not deter a hardy group of walkers from an enlightening tour of the city and new learning centre dedicated to the area’s National Socialist history. Elsewhere in the city, sporting space was again centre stage as part of the group attended a (very) lower-league football match, which saw (roughly) 7 goals, 40 fans, and 1 (possible) concussion. Truly something for everyone! The stimulating, productive and above all friendly visit was rounded off with a fantastic group meal in a Greek restaurant in which everyone toasted the work of the collaborative partnership so far and the possibilities offered by the future.