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Understanding Heritage in Practice

Susie West

"An up-to-date introduction to new worldwide approaches to understanding and interpreting heritage" Mike Heyworth MBE, Director, Council for British Archaeology "A key text for the university classroom and will be on the shelves of serious students as well as professionals in cultural heritage management" John H. Jameson Jr, Acting Director, Southeast Archeological Centre, National Park Service, USA "The complex field of heritage practice is clearly delineated in this volume, which describes its historical emergence and contemporary manifestations, both tangible and intangible." Helen Rees Leahy, Director, Centre for Museology, University of Manchester "We live in an age of heritage, conservation and remembrance. This series explains why, how and to whom the past matters today." Cornelius Holtorf, Associate Professor in Archaeology, Linnaeus University of Kalmar, Sweden The notion that only ‘official’ heritage practices can successfully select and interpret heritage is being eroded by an increasingly powerful community of heritage enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. Opportunities for engaging with the past are no longer confined to guidebooks, museums and national parks as heritage tourists shape other ‘official’ as well as ‘unofficial’ heritage practices ranging from biodiversity projects and Arctic encounters to recreations of traditional dress. This book examines the opening up of heritage to new audiences and new meanings by looking beyond the ways in which heritage is offered to the ways in which heritage is valued. Jay Brown’s heritage walking tours of Brixton, with their emphasis on forgotten aspects of African-Caribbean heritage, show heritage to be a form of social action, both as an intervention in official heritage provision and through the community-building aspects of unofficial heritage processes. By contrast, historical re-enactments and processions construct heritage as performance, providing public displays of national pride or opposition to heritage interpretations. The book’s focus on how heritage is delivered and consumed reveals how certain objects, places and practices may be considered worthy of protection and promotion, even though they may not be recognised by governments or listed on official heritage registers. Critical heritage studies speaks to the challenges that different understandings of ownership, value and significance pose for official heritage, and to the ideologies that underlie the use of heritage in keeping the past alive. With its firmly interdisciplinary and global approach, Understanding Heritage in Practice will be of interest not only to students of heritage studies, but also to students and professionals in the fields of archaeology, architecture and built environment studies, art history, anthropology, sociology, history, human geography, religious studies, museum studies, cultural studies, natural heritage management, and leisure and tourism studies. This book is one of three in the Understanding Global Heritage series.