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The new heritage studies : origins and evolution, problems and prospects

posted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by William LoganWilliam Logan, M Nic Craith, U Kockel
Heritage and heritage studies have evolved in astounding ways over the last sixty years. Nobody could have imagined when the Venice Charter (1964) jump-started the heritage profession in the aftermath of the Second World War that there would be a veritable heritage boom in the 1990s and continuing into the twenty-first century. Who would have predicted that so much attention would now be paid to protecting environmental features, material culture and living traditions from the past, or the vast numbers of community members, policy makers, practitioners and scholars engaged in caring for, managing and studying heritage? Who would have foreseen the explosion of heritage-based cultural tourism, the re-figuration of heritage as an economic, and a World Heritage List comprising more than a thousand properties spread around the globe?

This chapter sets a historical and theoretical framework for the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Heritage Studies that seeks to investigate that the steady broadening of the concept of heritage and its social, economic and political uses, the difficulties that often arise from such uses, and current trends in heritage scholarship. Starting from a position of seeing “heritage” as a mental construct that attributes “significance” to certain places, artefacts and forms of behaviour from the past through processes that are essentially political, heritage conservation is seen not merely as a technical or management matter but as cultural practice, a form of cultural politics. We are interested in the different extent to which various groups within global, national and local communities are able to participate in heritage identification, interpretation and management. We address the extent to which communities have access to and enjoy heritage once it has been officially recognized, conserved or safeguarded. This interest inevitably leads to human rights considerations, to developing closer intellectual links with international lawyers and others in the human rights field, and to strengthening both the multi-disciplinary nature of heritage studies and the critical relationship between theory and practice. Whether this new vision of heritage studies represents a “paradigm shift” or only the culmination of changes already occurring in the heritage studies field since the late 1980s is discussed.


Title of book

A companion to heritage studies




Blackwell companions to anthropology

Chapter number



1 - 25


John Wiley & Sons

Place of publication

London, Eng.







Publication classification

B1 Book chapter; B Book chapter

Copyright notice

2016, John Wiley & Sons




W Logan, M Nic Craith, U Kockel