Counterheritage: Critical Perspectives on Heritage Conservation in Asia (Routledge Studies in Heritage)


  • Popular religion and antiquities collecting constitutes the principle themes of Counterheritage. 
  • Along with Smith (2004, 2006), I view heritage discourse as essentially hegemonic (Bryne 1991, 1996). There is, as it were, a compact among heritage practitioners not to notice that heritage discourse constructs its own subject, that it constructs heritage items out of old things. This ‘not noticing’ may on the face of it seem innocent, but its effects are corrosive.
  • [But this is not Smith says in her book. Yes she argues that heritage is a discourse and a construct, but heritage practitioners as participants are acutely aware of the situation too].
  • The coinage ‘counterheritage’ denotes not an attack on heritage practice but an insistence on transparency. The book argues for a more democratic heritage practice, one that respects the existence of other ways of relating to old things and one prepared to take a clear-eyed view of its own history. 
  • I have advocated a ‘countermapping’ approach which, identifying the map as a technology of power in colonial and post-colonial settings, works to inscribe on maps those elements of the culture and historic of marginalised groups that official heritage mapping practices have neglected to ‘notice’.
  • Heritage’s opposition to the accretion of new on old fabric… Popular religion, by contrast, favours the piling up of fabric upon fabric, renovation upon renovation, according to the logic that spirits and deities are honoured by the labour and funding expended in the renewal and elboration of the fabric of their temples and shrines. Whereas heritage conservation seeks to stabilise built fabric, popular religion cannot seem to abide stasis.
  • Heritage discourse shares with archaeology with modern, Cartesian view that matter is inert and passive (Olsen 2010). This licenses conservators to treat temples as purely human artefacts rather than as phenomena that arise from the bundled effects of divine and human agency. Heritage discourse is wedded to modernity. Ontologically, it proceeds from modern secular rationalism. 
  • Asian popular religion, on the other hand, frames the world in a way similar ot that pertaining during the European Renaissance when all phenomena are created by God.

Conservation in the Age of Consensus


  • [quite UK-specific]
  • There is therefore tremendous continuity in the basic principles that define the historic environment and the way government considers it should be managed, since the late 1960s/early 1970s. These derive from a justification for conservation based upon cultural values relating to architectural quality, historic importance and archaeological significance: to defining places as special. However, what has shifted fundamentally in official pronouncements during this period is the benefits that are argued to derive from this activity. An official document such as Preservation and Change (Ministry of Housing and Local Government 1967) set out brief statements of the value of conservation relating to beauty and visible history. In the 1970s, there was rhetorical emphasis on the social value of conservation, and in the 1980s stress on its economic potential. By the time of the government’s policy advice document PPG15, benefits were argued to include value in terms of national identity, quality of life, local distinctiveness, leisure and recreation and economic prosperity. Force for Our Future, a more recent government statement on the heritage was even more fulsome. It waxed lyrically and extensively about the role of conservation in establishing environmental quality and identity, local distinctiveness and continuity and as an active part of social processes, including community cohesion and social inclusion, and as a stimulus for creative new architecture. Furthermore, conservation was held to aid economic processes and economic regeneration in particular.
  • [but is it possible to separate the cultural values form the social/economic value of heritage?]
  • However, despite these sweeping statements, these are benefits that may (or may not) follow decisions to protect based upon essentially traditional criteria of specialness, and where guidance on conservation management decisions emphasises first and foremost the importance of sustaining cultural worth defined around issues of fabric and aesthetics.
  • [But this is simply not true. Cultural worth is defined through, firstly, the materiality of the heritage, then the community’s definitions of heritage, then intangible heritage, then more often a layering of values. The definitions of cultural value is not at all static.]

ICOMOS China Charter


In China one of the major issues for cultural heritage is how to deal with the relationship between socio-economic development and heritage conservation in order that both economic development and heritage conservation come out winners.

China is presently going through a phase of rapid development. Many places simply pursue the economic benefits of cultural heritage and ignore conservation of the property. In some areas people may even damage a site for shortterm economic gain. There are some places that realize the importance of heritage conservation after becoming more economically developed and invest considerable funds for conservation purposes. However, many undertake conservation without following appropriate theories and what may have started off as good intention ends up with negative results. In order to address these problems, more effort has been put into education so that the public in general and all stakeholders understand that  cultural heritage can play a positive role in society today. At the same time, law enforcement has been strengthened with priority placed on criminal investigation in cases of destruction of heritage sites. More importantly, research into the theory of conservation has been enhanced and appropriate concepts and theories have been used to guide us in finding solutions to questions that still remain. For example, as
a result of extensive theoretical research we have undertaken on appropriate use of heritage sites, we conclude that appropriate use is the best means of maintaining the vitality of a site in contemporary life as well as an important means of promoting the conservation of both its physical remains and values. This has already become a consensus among the professionals.

New issues emerge in the conservation of cultural heritage sites during times of rapid economic and social development. For these reasons it has been necessary to revise and supplement the original content of the China Principles so as to better address the main issues presently facing heritage conservation.

While emphasising historic, artistic and scientific values of heritage sites, the revised China Principles also recognizes cultural and social values based on theoretical research and practices in heritage conservation and use both in China and internationally. In addition to cultural and social values that are attributed to physical remains of many heritage sites, social value is demonstrated when a heritage site generates social benefits in aspects such as maintaining knowledge and spiritual continuity and enhancing social coherence, while cultural value is closely connected to cultural diversity and intangible heritage. The concepts of cultural and social values have further enriched the categories and meanings of China’s cultural heritage, and have played a positive role in constructing the value based theoretical system of Chinese heritage conservation.

Interpretation and presentation of heritage sites. The new version of the China Principles regards reconstruction of a destroyed historic building as a means of interpretation and presentation, which defines the nature and values of reconstructed buildings, thus settling a long disputed issue in the conservation of China’s historic structures.

The Past is a Foreign Country

Lowenthal, David, 1985


  • ‘None of the past definitively eludes our intense involvement. What we are now indifferent to once meant much or may later do so. That being so, I survey the past not only through lenses of memory and history but also through present-day perspectives – impassioned views of right and wrong, good and evil, ownership and alienation, identity and entitlement. We descry the past both for its sake and for our sake. Neither historian nor layman is ever aloof or detached from it. To know is to care, to care is to use, to use is to transform the past. Continually refashioned, the remade past continuously remoulds us.’ (Lowenthal, 2015)
  • ‘But I also consider invented heritage, no less than revealed history, both inescapable and indispensable. In fabricating the past ‘we tell ourselves who we are, where we came from, and to what we belong’.’ (Wood, G.S. quoted in Lowenthal, 2015).
  • That they did indeed do things differently is a quite recent perception. During most of history scholars scarcely differentiated past from present, referring even to remote events, if at all, as though just then occurring. Up to the nineteenth century the historical past was generally thought much like the present.
  • This outlook had two particular consequences. Past departures from present standards were praised as virtuous or condemned as depraved. And since past circumstances seemed comparable and hence relevant to present concerns, history served as a source of useful exemplars. A past explained in terms similar to the present also suited common views of why things happened as they had.
  • Only in the late eighteenth century did Europeans begin to conceive the past as different, not just another country but a congeries of foreign lands shaped by unique histories and personalities. This new past gradually ceased to provide comparative lessons. Instead it became cherished for validating and exalting the present. This aroused urges to preserve and restore monuments and memories as emblems of communal identity, continuity, and aspiration.
  • Growing global participation likewise broadened UNESCO’s World Heritage Site
    designations, while cosmopolitanism spurred revision of the canonical 1964 Venice Charter. That document had accorded prime value to western Europe’s surviving marble monuments and stone and brick buildings. Less durable wooden architecture predominant in Norway and Japan led conservators to focus on rebuilt form rather than original substance; I joined the 1990s Bergen workshop and the Nara conference that rewrote criteria of authenticity accordingly. A decade later other cultural differences in heritage fuelled a similar drive to celebrate and protect intangible heritage. Where structures and artefacts soon decayed or were customarily replaced by new creations, what truly mattered was the maintenance of traditional skills and crafts, arts, and genres de vie.
  • Various academic initiatives – at UNESCO, ICCROM, the Getty Conservation Institute, and elsewhere – foundered for want of institutional support, in a budgetary climate that confined past-related benefits to immediate economic payoffs.
  • I had already penned a book that took off from where The Past Is a Foreign Country ended.24 In it I distinguished the rising cult of heritage – partisan manipulations of the past – from historians’ impartial and consensual efforts to understand it. Appropriating the past for parti pris purposes, heritage purged its foreignness. The past’s growing domestication now threatened to subvert this book’s premise.
  • This book comprises four broad themes: wanting, disputing, knowing, and remaking the past. Part I reviews how the past enriches and impoverishes us, and why we embrace or shun it. Part II surveys competing viewpoints about things past and present, old and new. How we become aware of and learn about the past, and how we respond to such knowledge, occupies part III. Part IV considers how we save and change the received past; why its vestiges are salvaged or contrived; and how these alterations affect the past and ourselves. I show how the past, once virtually indistinguishable from the present, became ever more foreign, yet increasingly suffused by present hopes and habits.
  • Chapters 5 and 6 explore responses to ageing, decay, and marks of use and wear, as distinct from indicators of a historical past. Artefacts and institutions are commonly assigned lifespans analogous to our own, their ageing likened to human old age – a condition usually dismayingly repellent, as shown in Chapter 5. Decay suggests not only enfeeblement and incipient demise, but corruption and evil, caricatured in venomous portrayals of senile impotent geezers and withered witch-like crones. Although medical advance has multiplied the numbers and political clout of the elderly, age-averse stereotypes and nursing-home horrors show geriatric animus unabated. Bias against the fact and look of age extends from humans to other creatures, natural features, nations and states,
    and most artefacts. Almost all are beautiful and virtuous when young, ugly and depraved when aged and decrepit.
  • Ageism is far from universal, however. Chapter 6 details how marks of age are felt to enhance the beauty and value of certain artefacts – notably buildings and paintings. Long ago admired in China and Japan, wear and tear became widely prized in Europe in the sixteenth century, first for confirming and authenticating antiquity, then as attractive in their own right. Monumental ruin and decay first acclaimed as memento mori later betokened picturesque aesthetic. Age appreciation earlier progressed from long-buried Chinese bronzes and neo-Romantic fondness for fragmented sculpture to time-softened varnished paintings. Today it includes Cor-Ten structures and sculptures meant to rust, artworks admired as they evanesce, and corroding industrial and military ruins. But the public in general shuns the appearance of age. Teddy bears and retro pubs aside, most old things should look new-made. But impassioned differences between friends and foes of the patina of age surface in continuing controversy over cleaning buildings and restoring
  • Memory and history both derive and gain authority from physical remains (Chapter 9). Tangible survivals’ vivid immediacy helps assure us there really was a past. Physical remains have limited evidentiary worth: themselves mute, they require interpretation. Moreover, differing rates of erosion and demolition skew the material record. But however depleted by time and use, relics crucially bridge then and now. They confirm or deny what we think of the past, symbolize or memorialize communal links among generations, and provide archaeological metaphors that illumine history and memory. Locales and relics are objects of curiosity or beauty, historical evidence, and talismans of continuity reified by
    visceral contact with the past. However ill-informed our responses, they bespeak our concern with what has been. All knowledge of the past requires caring about it – feeling pleasure or disgust, awe or disdain, hope or despair about its legacies.
  • Surviving relics and recollections undergo ceaseless change, much of it of our ownn making. Even when we strive to save bygone things and thoughts intact, we cannot avoid altering them. Some changes are made unconsciously, others reluctantly, still others deliberately. Chapters 10 to 12 examine how and why we transform the past, and how such changes affect our environs and ourselves.
  • Simply to identify something as ‘past’ affects its ambience: recognition entails marking, protecting, and enhancing relics to make them more accessible, secure, or attractive. Preserving things (Chapter 10) inevitably transforms them, often in unintended and undesired ways. Appreciation if not survival may require moving relics from original locales. Enshrined in historical precincts yet immersed in the trappings of present-day management, vestiges of the past seem newly contrived. Present choices – whether to retain relics in situ or to shift them, to leave them fragmented or to make them whole again – vitally affect how the past is experienced.
  • Imitations, fakes, and new works inspired by earlier prototypes extend and alter auras of antiquity. The fame or scarcity of originals begets replicas that copy, emulate, or echo the old. Creations that hark back to or reflect some attribute of a bygone era have for two millennia dominated the cultural landscape of the Western world. Modern awareness of classical architecture derives from an amalgam of Hellenistic, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romantic, and Victorian works, in which extant Greek and Roman remains are sparse. Frequently mistaken for originals, copies and replicas may be preferred to them for their completeness, their freshness, or their accordance with modern taste and expectations. Originals often seem less ‘authentic’ than current views of what things past should have been.

Dellios, A., 2015. Marginal or mainstream? Migrant centres as grassroots and official heritage’


Migrant heritage, as a grassroots practice seeking to commemorate pre- and post-war migrant communities and their contributions, emerged in Australia from the 1980s. Since that time, its appeal has continued to grow. It now receives, in some form, state sanction and is policed by the same state and national legislation as other cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. This article seeks to complicate understandings of migrant heritage as a marginal practice, specifically by interrogating the use-value of particular narratives in the Australian context – that is, how do individuals, communities and other groups (the grassroots) draw on sanctioned and publicly circulating narratives to mark their site as heritage-worthy? Ideas of what constitutes official and unofficial heritage can be mutually inclusive – a dialectical process. I analyse this in relation to the commemoration of former post-war migrant reception centres in Australia.



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McBryde, I., “The Ambiguities of authenticity – rock of faith or shifting sands?’ Nara Conference on authenticity in relation to the World Heritage Convention” in Conservation and management of archaeological sites, 2, 1997, pages 93-100

Merriman, N., 1996. Defining Heritage. Journal of Material Culture 1(3), pp. 377-386. Millenson, Susan Feinberg, 1987. Sir John Soane’s Museum. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press

Merryman J., “Two ways of thinking about cultural property” in The American journal of international law, 80, 1986, pages 831-853

Meskell, L., 2010. Human Rights and Heritage Ethics. Anthropological Quarterly 83(4), pp. 839–860.

Messenger, Phyllis, Fagan, Brian, 1999. The ethics of collecting cultural property: whose culture? Whose property?. 2nd Edition. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Miller, D., 2007. Artefacts and the meaning of things. In: S. Knell (Ed.), Museums in the material world. London and New York: Routledge, 2007, pp. 166-186.

Miller, D., 2008. The comfort of things. Cambridge: Polity, Note: read ‘Prologue’, ‘Portrait 1: Empty’, ‘Portrait 2: Full’

Mitchell, J. P., 2006. “Performance” in: Handbook of Material Culture by Tilley, Chris. Sage, pages 384-401.

Moshenska, G., 2012. Unbuilt Heritage: Conceptualising Absences in the Historic Environment. In: S. May, H. Orange, and S. Penrose, (eds), The Good, the Bad and the Unbuilt: Handling the Heritage of the Recent Past. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 123–126. 

Myers, F., 2001. The empire of things: regimes of value and material culture. Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press.

Nas, P.J.M., “Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Culture: Reflections on the UNESCO World Heritage List” in Current anthropology, 43(1), 2002, pages 139-148

Nash,D., The Anthropology of Tourism in Anthropology Today, 20(3). Note: Introduction to a special issue on tourism Parkin, D., ‘Mementoes as Transitional Objects in Human Displacement’ in Journal of Material Culture, 4(3), 1999

Nelson, Robert and Olin, Margaret (eds). 2003. Monuments and memory, made and unmade. London and Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Note: several useful chapters, particularly Intro, Epilogue, and Elsner.

Nora, P., 1989. Between Memory and History: Lieux de Mémoire. Representations 26(1), pp. 7-25. Norman, K., 2011. Should the UK Be Nominating More World Heritage Sites? O’Neill, M., 2004. Enlightenment Museums – universal or merely global?, Museums and Society

Oliver, P., 2001. Re-Presenting and Representing the Vernacular: The Open-Air Museum. In: N. AlSayyad (ed.), Consuming, tradition, manufacturing heritag : global norms and urban forms in the age of tourism. London:: Routledge, pp. 191-211.

Psarra, Sophia, 2009. Architecture and narrative: the formation of space and cultural. London: Routledge. Note: ‘Victorian Knowledge’, pages 137-158. 

Rapaport, H., 2003. Later Derrida: Reading the Recent Work. London and New York: Routledge, Note: Chapter Three: ‘Archive Trauma’ pp. 75-97.

Reed, A. ‘Of Routes and Roots: Paths for Understanding Diasporic Heritage’ in: Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research by Waterton, E., Watson, S. (eds), 2015, Palgrave Macmillan: England and New York. Rojek, C., ’Indexing., Dragging and the Social Construction of Tourist Sights’ in Touring cultures : transformations of travel and theory by Rojek, Chris, Urry, John, Routledge, 1997   

Roth, Leland M., 1994. Understanding architecture: its elements, history and meaning. London: Icon Editions.

Rowlands, M., “Heritage and Cultural Property.” in The material culture reader by Buchli, Victor, Berg, 2002, pages 105-110   

Rowlands, Michael, “Cultural Rights and Wrongs: Uses of the Concept of Property” in: Property in question : value transformation in the global economy by Verdery, Katherine, Humphrey, Caroline, Berg, 2004, pages 207-226

Ruggles, D. F.& Silverman, H., 2009. From Tangible to Intangible Heritage.  

Sahlins, Marshall, Culture in practice: selected essays, Zone Books, 2000   

Said, E., 2003. Freud and the Non-European. London: Verso.

Samuel, Raphael, 1994. Theatres of memory. Volume 1. London: Verso. Note: Especially read “Semantics and heritage baiting”.

Sebald, W. G., Translated by A. Bell. 2004. On the Natural History of Destruction.. New York: The Modern Library

Singh, Kishore, “UNESCO and Cultural Rights” in Cultural rights and wrongs: a collection of essays in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Unesco, 1998, pages 146-160.


Smith, Laurajane and Akagawa, Natsuko (eds.), 2009. Intangible Heritage. London: Routledge, pp. 13-44.

Starobinski, J., 1966. The idea of nostalgia. Diogenes, 56, pp. 81-103.

Stolcke, V., “Talking Culture: New Boundaries, New Rhetorics of Exclusion in Europe” in Current anthropology, 36 (1), 1995, pages 1-24

Stone, Peter G., Layton, Robert, Thomas, Julian, Destruction and conservation of cultural property, Routledge, 2001. Note: This volume contains a number of papers on Ayodhya and other conflicts.

Stotesbury, J.A. ‘Time, History, Memory: photographic life narratives and the albums of strangers’ in: Temporalities, Autobiography and Everyday Life by Campbell, J., Harbord, J. (eds), 2002, Manchester University Press.

Street, Brian and Hallam, Elizabeth (eds), 2000. Cultural encounters: representing ‘otherness’, London and New York: Routledge. Hallam (eds), Cultural encounters: representing ‘otherness’. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 155-193.

Thomas F. King, 2007. Our Unprotected Heritage – Whitewashing the Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Tilley, C., “Performing Culture in the Global Village” in Critique of Anthropology, 17, pages 67-89

Tilley, C., 1994. A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths, and monuments. Oxford: Berg Note: ‘Space, place, landscape and perception: phenomenological perspectives pages’, pp. 7-34.

Titchen, S. M., “On the Construction of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’: Some Comments on the Implementation of the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention” in Conservation and management of archaeological sites, 1(4), 1996, pages 235-242

Tolia-Kelly, P., Waterton, E., Watson, S., 2016. Heritage, Affect and Emotion: Politics, Practices and Infrastructures. London: Routledge.   

Tomlinson, J. ‘Globalised Culture: The Triumph of the West?’ in: The City Cultures Reader (second edition) by Miles, M., Hall, T., Borden, I. (eds), 2004, London: Routledge.

Tucker, H. and Carnegie, E., 2014. World heritage and the contradictions of ‘universal value’. Annals of Tourism Research 47, pp. 63–76. 2. Byrne, Denis, 2004. Chartering Heritage in Asia’s Postmodern World. Conservation: The Getty Conservation Institute Newsletter, 19(2).

Urry, J., 1996. How Societies remember the Past. In: S. Macdonald and G. Fyfe (eds). Theorizing museums: representing identity and diversity in a changing world. Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp. 45-65.

Urry, John, Consuming places, Routledge, 1995. Note: Part III & Part IV

Urry, John, The tourist gaze, 2nd Edition, SAGE, 2002. Note: Introduction.

Varvantakis, C., 2009. A Monument to Dismantlement. Memory Studies 2(1), pp. 27-38

Waterton, E. and Watson, S., 2014. The Semiotics of Heritage Tourism. Bristol: Channel View Publications.



The Scope and Definitions of Heritage: From Tangible to Intangible

By Yahaya Ahmad

  • This article focuses on the scope and definition of heritage as promulgated by the various charters across the globe.
  • The term ‘historic monument’ used in the Venice Charter 1964 was reinterpreted by ICOMOS in 1965ICOMOS. 21–22 June 1965. Report on the Constitutive Assembly 21–22 June, Warsaw, , Poland as ‘monument’ and ‘site’; and by UNESCO in 1968 UNESCO. 1968. Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of Cultural Property Endangered by Public or Private Works. 15th Session of the General Conference. 1968, Paris. as ‘cultural property’ to include both movable and immovable. The different terminology between the UNESCO and ICOMOS was reconciled at the World Heritage Convention 1972. At national and regional levels the scope of heritage was broadened to include gardens, landscape and environment, and later reinterpreted and defined quite differently in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and China.


  • he most significant guideline was the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, commonly known as the Venice Charter 1964, 1 [1] Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments (CATHM), the Venice Charter 1964. which set a remarkable benchmark for principles governing architectural conservation and restoration.
  • Since its adoption internationally in 1964, the Venice Charter has been used as a reference point for the development of a number of other conservation documents around the world.

Heritage Pasts and Heritage Presents

by David C. Harvey

  • In short, many contemporary studies of heritage issues have failed fully to explore the historical scope that the concept really implies, and have rather been too preoccupied with certain manifestations of heritage’s recent trajectory.
  • I wish to make space for a longer historical analysis of the development of heritage practices. Consequently, by providing a longer historical narrative of `heritageisation’ as a process, I am seeking to situate the myriad of multiplyconnected interdisciplinary research that makes up the terrain of heritage studies today.
  • history of heritage, not starting at an arbitrary date like 1882, but by producing a context-rich account of heritage as a process or a human condition rather than as a single movement or personal project.
  • Every society has had a relationship with its past, even those which have chosen to ignore it, and it is through understanding the meaning and nature of what people tell each other about their past; about what they forget, remember, memorialise and/or fake, that heritage studies can engage with academic debates beyond the confines of present-centred cultural, leisure or tourism studies.
  • processes of `heritageisation’ within a much longer temporal framework than is
    normally used.

The Presentness of Heritage: heritage definitions and the apparent demise of history

  • almost all commentators place the appearance of the heritage phenomenon in the latter half of the 20th century, with even the earliest origins often manifested only in the 19th century with the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882 and personified by such figures as William Morris.
    • McCrone et al. proclaim that `heritage is a thoroughly modern concept, . . . [it] belongs to the final quarter of the twentieth century’.
    • Lowenthal argues that it is only in our time that heritage has `become a self-conscious creed’, while
    • Graham et al. claim that it is only in the last few decades that the word has come to mean more than a legal bequest.11
    • Lowenthal, Heritage crusade, p. 1; Graham et al., Geography of heritage, p. 1.
  • The critical response of Robert Hewison14 to the recent developments of the so-called `heritage industry’ are well known, and the dating of this rise of `heritageisation’ to the later 20th century is a central part of his thesis. R. Hewison, The heritage industry: Britain in a climate of decline
  • Tunbridge & Ashworth, for instance, note that `the present selects an inheritance from an imagined past for current use and decides what should be passed on to an imagined future’ .24
  • Hewison used in his attack on the so-called `heritage industry’; heritage was somehow threatening history, destroying an authentic version of the past and replacing it by simulacra of that past. This extreme position was criticised by Samuel (Theatres of memory), among others, who sees the practices associated with the so-called `heritage industry’ as valid techniques for exploring one’s
    relationship with the past.
  • Since all heritage is produced completely in the present, our relationship with the past is understood in relation to our present temporal and spatial experience.27 This school of thought, which ultimately endeavours to relate notions of time± space compression to ideas that the experience of time itself has now ended, as we are now condemned to live through an endless series of presents, is well discussed in a critical paper by Dodgshon. R.A. Dodgshon,
    `Human geography at the end of time? Some thoughts on the notion of time± space compression’ , Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, Vol. 17, No. 5, 1999, pp. 607± 620.
  • Some heritage scholars have sought to place this dislocation and rootlessness
    within wider developments of our post-modern society.28 What this has meant for the field of heritage studies is that a sort of `line of temporal closure’ has been drawn, which ties the appearance of heritage to the development of post-modernity. Heritage, as practised today, is portrayed as a product of the wider social, cultural, political and economic transitions that have occurred during the later 20th century. What this itself implies, however, is that, firstly, there is something called `correct’ historical narrative that heritage is busily destroying and, extending from this, that until very recently, all history, historical narrative and other relationships with the past were somehow more genuine and authentic than they have now become. This point requires some discussion of the relationship between history and heritage, and also some thought as to how we define the latter concept.

    • As well as appearing to retain a modernist, scientific version of historical narrative, the heritage baiters’ accounts also tend to imply that previous relationships with the past, whether factually correct or not, were somehow more authentic.
    • In this sense, the heritage industry is portrayed as a sort of parasite, exploiting the more genuine and `ageless’ memorial (and largely oral) relationships with the past that people had before the 19th century.
  • This idea is related to notions that distinguish between `modern’ and `traditional’ memory, which was best articulated by Nora and discussed
    by Johnson.34

    • P. Nora, `Between memory and history; les lieux de memoire’ , Representations, Vol. 26, 1989, pp. 10± 18; N. Johnson, `Memory and heritage’, in P. Cloke, P. Crang & M. Goodwin (eds) Introducing human geographies, London: Arnold, 1999, pp. 170± 178.
    • Nora draws a distinction between an elite, institutionalised memory preserved in the archives, and the memory of ordinary people, unrecorded, and ingrained in the unspoken traditions and habits of everyday life.35 Most importantly, however, rather than seeing this `traditional memory’ as something that has ended, and defeated by `false heritage’ , Nora sees it as having been transformed (partly through technological and archival development) and democratised. `In this light, rather than viewing heritage as a false, distorted history imposed on the masses, we can view heritage sites as forming one link in a chain of popular memory.’
    • [Give the possibility of choice]
  • We should not draw any lines of temporal closure, or view the entire heritage concept as a product of later 19th- and 20th-century cultural change without origin. Rather, we should supply heritage with a history of its own, not in terms of recounting the story of the development of a particular modernist strand of heritage from a 19th-century icon, but in terms of examining the evolution of the heritage process over the longer term.
  • subjective interpretation of selective material and issues. This situation is certainly not new, but rather has a long history that needs to be examined.
  • For instance, Lowenthal sees heritage as a practice that `clarifies pasts so as to infuse them with present purposes’, while Hewison has defined heritage as `that which a past generation has preserved and handed on to the present and which a significant group of population wishes to hand on to the future’ .37
  • The practice of engaging with these case studies through recourse to heritage concepts will help us to understand heritage as a process, or a verb, related to human action and agency, and as an instrument of cultural power in whatever period of time one chooses to examine.39
  • In order to investigate these historical case studies, the simple definition of heritage as `a contemporary product shaped from history’ has been used.40 This concise definition conveys that heritage is subjective and filtered with reference to the present, whenever that `present’ actually is. It is a value-laden concept, related to processes of commodification, but intrinsically reflective of a relationship with the past, however that `past’ is perceived and defined.
    • Tunbridge & Ashworth, Dissonant heritage, p. 20.

Heritage Practice in the Pre-modern Period

  • oft-cited relationship between ideas of heritage and those of national identity.
  • [Using medieval examples to show that the pitting of heritage industry vs. actual heritage is not a new Modern condition]
  • This heritage process, therefore, reflects the predilections of a powerful elite, and was used to justify wholesale landscape alteration, plantation and improvement.

Concluding Thoughts

  • The above examples have illustrated how concepts of heritage have always developed and changed according to the contemporary societal context of transforming power relationships and emerging nascent national (and other) identities. I would see this relationship very much as a hand-in-hand transformation, rather than one of straight cause and effect.
  • The paper also demonstrates how heritage processes can be explored within a very long temporal framework, and should not be described simply as a recent product of post-modern economic and social tendencies. Most important here is the notion that heritage is, first and foremost, a process.
  • one can argue that, just as historians have been criticised for a perceived `fetishisation’ of the written archive,82 heritage studies can sometimes come across as fetishising authentic and preserved physical relics and remains.83 To counter this, we should heed Brett’s comments about history being a verb; likewise, heritage is not given, it is made and so is, unavoidably, an ethical enterprise.84 (84. D. Brett, `The construction of heritage’ , in B. O’Connor & M. Cronin (eds) Tourism in Ireland: a
    critical analysis, Cork: Cork University Press, 1993, pp. 183± 202 (p. 186).)
  • This essay, therefore, challenges the popular convention of understanding heritage simply as a physical artefact or record, by advocating an approach that treats heritage as a cultural process. Following Bender’s comments on landscape, heritage is `never inert, people engage with it, re-work it, appropriate it and contest it. It is part of the way identities are created and disputed, whether as individual, group or nation state.’85 Perhaps even more so than the representation of landscape, heritage is a present-centred cultural practice and an instrument of cultural power. The heritage movement that traces its origins to William Morris and the SPAB of the later 19th century represents but one strand of heritage practice, reflecting the perceptions, politics and assumed natural identities of its practitioners. Taking a longer temporal perspective has revealed a complex evolution of heritage, mirroring processes of dialogue and resistance between interested parties. Developments that have occurred should be seen as gradual, tentative and discontinuous, intrinsically linked to changing notions of what heritage should be like, and inseparable from the ingrained ritual associated with practices of everyday life.
    • 85. B. Bender, `Introduction; landscapeÐ meaning and action’, in B. Bender (ed.) Landscape: politics and perspectives, Oxford: Berg, 1993, pp. 1± 18 (p. 3). See also Seymour, `Historical geographies of landscape’ , p. 214.
  • For instance, Lowenthal relates what he sees as a secularising tendency within heritage to a process of democratisation.86 On the face of it, the involvement of heritage with a mass audience as compared with the 19th century seems clear-cut. However, our longer term perspective reveals a large degree of popular involvement in Bonfire celebrations in the 17th century and in miracle plays
    and the like at a much earlier time.87 Overall, though, it does seem certain that a
    bigger range and number of people are becoming more involved in a much broader and deeper array of heritage phenomena than ever before. Drawing on the ideas of Dodgshon, this transformation in scale, scope and access to heritage can perhaps be related to a transformation in technology.88

    • 86. D. Lowenthal, `Stewardship, sanctimony and selfishnessÐ a heritage paradox’ , in J. Arnold, K. Davies & S. Ditchfield (eds) History and heritage, 1998, pp. 169± 179 (p. 173).
  • In this respect, heritage is not seen as a new phenomenon, nor even one particularly or exclusively associated with modernity. Rather, the transformations that are implied by modernity are simply mirrored by an increasing intensification, recycling, depth and scope of heritage activity. In many respects, therefore, the present tendency for nostalgia and finding solace in heritage is just the latest phase of a much longer trajectory.91
    • 91. Lowenthal, Heritage crusade, p. 5; McCrone et al., Scotland Ð the brand, p. 11.
  • In parallel with the underdevelopment of a longer temporal perspective on heritage is an underdeveloped sense of heritage history, or what might be termed the `heritage of heritage’ . Lowenthal drew attention to this when he noted that history itself is a heritage.92 In this respect, conceptions of modernity and even the longing for the future that Lowenthal speaks of are `contemporary products shaped by the past’ .93 Taking this view, one might therefore see the often-reported and eulogised 19th-century development of preservationism and architectural protectionism (along with the entire `scrape/anti-scrape’ debate) as simply an important moment within a much longer trajectory of heritage in Britain. Like all heritage, it is a selective portrayal contingent on present-day requirements, thereby reflecting a sense of nostalgia towards the heritage heroes of yesteryear.
    • 92. Ibid., p. xi. See also the implications of J. Arnold, `Nasty histories, medievalism and horror’ , in J. Arnold, K. Davies & S. Ditchfield (eds) History and heritage, 1998, pp. 39± 50.