The way our understanding of ‘heritage’ has shifted and become more diversified and contested. In relation to multiculturalism.
Uploaded by kat_112 on May 21, 2012
Monuments, buildings and sights. These are our traditional views on what heritage was and what some still believe is (Smith 2006). Never the less, society has progressed to a greater understanding of heritage, now recognising that heritage is in fact both intangible and tangible, fluid, socially determined, and living (Harrison 2010). As our understandings of heritage have shifted, the more it has become contested and diversified. This can especially be seen in relation to multiculturalism. A nation that is multicultural is bound to have contested and diversified views on heritage; this is particularly seen in relation to national identities and collective memories (Harrison 2010). This essay will explain the traditional views of heritage and how these views have shifted in modern society. The essay will also explain how multicultural society’s heritage can become a production site of national identity, and lastly Britain is looked at as a case study on how national heritage excludes minorities, and how minorities have developed a voice to contested national heritage.
Traditional views of heritage are well examined and explained by Smith (2006) in what she calls the Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD). The AHD is characterised by; a need for expertise, focus on the intangible, elitism (white, male, middle and upper class), focus on national identity, property that is inherently valuable, all that is positive (effectively ignoring negatives), and a universal past (Smith 2006; Smith & Waterton 2009). This view of heritage came about through the period of enlightenment and the European nations struggle towards liberalism and nationalism in the late 1800’s (Smith 2006). Heritage was effectively used to bind a nation together during and after such a new and turbulent time period. This is seen in public monuments, statues and buildings; which were a testament to achievement, superiority and national identity, in modern Europe (Smith 2006). Museums in Europe were yet another public source to unite a country through, collections and artefacts from around the world, again demonstrating superiority, elitism, and achievement (Smith 2006). This ‘collecting of culture’ in the 20th century became the co modification of heritage, and seeing fabric form rather than the social or the intangible (Byrne 2008).In the 1990’s society started to come away from the view of heritage as purely tangible, we now recognise that heritage is both the tangible and intangible (Byrne 2008; 2009; Smith 2006; Smith & Waterton 2009). But the struggle to adapt...