1st Edition

Heritage Critical Approaches

By Rodney Harrison Copyright 2013
    288 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    Historic sites, memorials, national parks, museums…we live in an age in which heritage is ever-present. But what does it mean to live amongst the spectral traces of the past, the heterogeneous piling up of historic materials in the present? How did heritage grow from the concern of a handful of enthusiasts and specialists in one part of the world to something which is considered to be universally cherished? And what concepts and approaches are necessary to understanding this global obsession?

    Over the decades, since the adoption of the World Heritage Convention, various ‘crises’ of definition have significantly influenced the ways in which heritage is classified, perceived and managed in contemporary global societies. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the many tangible and intangible ‘things’ now defined as heritage, this book attempts simultaneously to account for this global phenomenon and the industry which has grown up around it, as well as to develop a ‘toolkit of concepts’ with which it might be studied. In doing so, it provides a critical account of the emergence of heritage studies as an interdisciplinary field of academic study. This is presented as part of a broader examination of the function of heritage in late modern societies, with a particular focus on the changes which have resulted from the globalisation of heritage during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

    Developing new theoretical approaches and innovative models for more dialogically democratic heritage decision making processes, Heritage: Critical Approaches unravels the relationship between heritage and the experience of late modernity, whilst reorienting heritage so that it might be more productively connected with other pressing social, economic, political and environmental issues of our time.

    List of Figures  List of Tables  Preface and Acknowledgements  1. Introduction: Heritage everywhere  2. Some definitions: Heritage, modernity, materiality  3. Prehistories of World Heritage: The emergence of a concept  4. Late modernity and the heritage ‘boom’  5. Critical heritage studies and the discursive turn  6. Intangible heritage and cultural landscapes  7. Heritage, diversity and human rights  8. Heritage and the ‘problem’ of memory  9. Dialogical heritage and sustainability  10. A future for the past?  Notes  References  Index


    Rodney Harrison is a Lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He has a broad range of experience teaching, researching and working across the fields of cultural and natural heritage management in the UK, Australia and North America. Prior to his current position, he worked for the Open University, where he was responsible for teaching, research and public broadcasting in global heritage studies.

    “Rodney Harrison’s Heritage:Critical Approaches is an important and timely addition to heritage studies…[it] stands above many other similar publications because it quite overtly uses case studies to explain complex conceptual positions about heritage and doesn’t eschew the importance of material culture, despite recent trends to embrace intangible heritage....It will be of great benefit for cultural heritage academics, archaeologists, historians, museologists, government heritage agencies, and both undergraduate and postgraduate students.” - Keir Reeves, University of Cambridge