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"Disneylanding" Conques and Modern Medievalisms (Racaniello, Marquardt, Palladino, & Lesák

Updated: 6 days ago

In this episode, four scholars from the “Conques in the Global World” project sit down for a round-table style discussion about how the village of Conques was and still is historicized, museumified, and “Disneylanded,” producing a “living” medieval space in the present. The scholars cover the exhibition history of the site and the medievalism tourism industry. Martin Lešák discusses his work on the resurrection of St Foy’s pilgrimage in 1873 and the installation of the Premonstratensians as a new modern monastic community intended to revive liturgical practices and enliven the treasury objects. Janet Marquardt discusses her work on the Zodiaque publication, the impact of Zodiaque’s photo aesthetic on perceptions of Conques beyond Conques, as well as her work on French medievalism and cultural identity more broadly. On the subject of nationalism, architecture, and cultural heritage projects (including this EU-funded project), Adrien Palladino discusses his work on architectural imaginaries through the preparatory drawings of Jean-Camille Formigé and Neo-Byzantine architecture’s place in French colonialism. His work explores how Neo-Byzantine architecture worked to cement racialized views of the history of “France” over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Kris Racaniello presents their research on the relationship between Sainte-Foy in Quebec, Canada, the echoes of the cult of Sainte Foy, and the devotional practices of the Christanized Wendat in the late 1690s and early 1700s. This covers the convergence of traditional Wendat ritual practices and Jesuit material culture, votive gifting, and opens questions around naming and ancestralized landscapes. 

All four scholars are concerned with the meanings of cultural heritage and the ideological function of patrimony: How we as scholars practice history-making through conservation, renovation, exhibition, and narratives of historical monuments and objects, and the ramifications of this constructed image of the past on our social and political present. 

“Conques in the Global World” is a European Union Horizon 2020 programme, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant.

Kris Racaniello is a PhD candidate at CUNY Graduate Center in New York and is the Kress Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome IT.

Janet Marquardt is an Emerita Distinguished Professor of Eastern Illinois University, USA.

Adrien Palladino is an Assistant Professor at Masaryk University in Brno, CZ.

Martin Lešák is a Post-Doctoral Fellow of the Humboldt-Stiftung at Regensburg University, DE.

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