Valuing local built heritage in a global setting : identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland

Elkadi, Hisham 2005, Valuing local built heritage in a global setting : identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland, in Cultural landscapes in the 21st century : Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage 10th International Seminar, an inter-congress of the World Archaeological Congress, UNESCO, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

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Title Valuing local built heritage in a global setting : identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland
Author(s) Elkadi, Hisham
Conference name Forum UNESCO (10th : 2005 : Newcastle upon Tyne)
Conference location University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Conference dates 11 - 16 April, 2005
Title of proceedings Cultural landscapes in the 21st century : Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage 10th International Seminar, an inter-congress of the World Archaeological Congress
Editor(s) [Unknown]
Publication date 2005
Conference series UNESCO Forum
Publisher UNESCO
Place of publication Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Summary ‘In these troubled times with the world in search of its bearings and way ward minds using the terms “culture” and “civilization” in an attempt to turn human beings against one another, there is an urgent need to remember how fundamental cultural diversity is to humanity itself’ (UNESCO 2002). The progressive idea of culture can be used in regressive ways by extremists who used it occasionally to pursue the politics of xenophobia and exclusion. The hypothesis that different communities can share the same culture but have different visual perception of their built environment might seems contradictory. It is essential to describe what is meant by the ‘same culture’. The ever evolving changes of definition and re-definition of the word has not yet settled. This paper adopts the descriptive definition of culture while challenging its interpretation. The descriptive definition refers to ‘all the characteristics activities by a people’. While this description is generally accepted, the interpretation of what ‘a people’ means is divisive. It is not clear how Eliot defines ‘a people’. Is the term genetically prescribed or is ‘a people’ place related? And what about the moral and religious orientation? This paper argues that culture is basically place related and the forces that shape a culture of a ‘people’ are deeply embedded in the environmental forces that also shape other aspects of the place making and its identity. The paper addresses the questions of conflicts, value systems, and culture definitions and the inseparable links with architecture aesthetics.

Local built heritage in Northern Ireland is taken as a case study. Unlike many parts of the world, visual perceptions in Northern Ireland is well recognised with iconic as well as formal representations. The population is well aware of the signified as well as the signifiers. The boundaries between iconology and formalism theories are very blurred in the Northern Ireland context. This paper examines how the two communities visually perceive their shared built heritage and the extent of overlapping between the understanding of iconic and formalist visual representations in the built environment. The paper takes the buildings of the successful economic ventures of the shirt industry in the 19th century as a case study. The case study provides an insight of how a signified value of a successful economic regeneration initiative that is deeply imbedded in the social structure and within the urban fabric can overcome divisive visual perception. The paper examines the possibility of building upon the historical success of the shirt industry to promote architectural cultural dialogue in which cultural built heritage in Derry is able to facilitate knowledge creation and social capital in different arenas.
Language eng
Field of Research 120102 Architectural Heritage and Conservation
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
ERA Research output type E Conference publication
Copyright notice ©2005, UNESCO
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30016529

Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: School of Architecture and Built Environment
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