Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage

Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage


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Situated at the intersection of scholarship and practice, Heritage Keywords positions cultural heritage as a transformative tool for social change. This volume unlocks the persuasive power of cultural heritage—as it shapes experiences of change and crafts present and future possibilities from historic conditions—by offering new ways forward for cultivating positive change and social justice in contemporary social debates and struggles. It draws inspiration from deliberative democratic practice, with its focus on rhetoric and redescription, to complement participatory turns in recent heritage work.

Through attention to the rhetorical edge of cultural heritage, contributors to this volume offer innovative reworkings of critical heritage categories. Each of the fifteen chapters examines a key term from the field of heritage practice—authenticity, civil society, cultural diversity, cultural property, democratization, difficult heritage, discourse, equity, intangible heritage, memory, natural heritage, place, risk, rights, and sustainability—to showcase the creative potential of cultural heritage as it becomes mobilized within a wide array of social, political, economic, and moral contexts.

This highly readable collection will be of interest to students, scholars, and professionals in heritage studies, cultural resource management, public archaeology, historic preservation, and related cultural policy fields.

Contributors include Jeffrey Adams, Sigrid Van der Auwera, Melissa F. Baird, Alexander Bauer, Malcolm A. Cooper, Anna Karlström, Paul J. Lane, Alicia Ebbitt McGill, Gabriel Moshenska, Regis Pecos, Robert Preucel, Trinidad Rico, Cecelia Rodéhn, Joshua Samuels, Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels, and Klaus Zehbe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607323839
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Edition description: 1
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, and her research examines cultural heritage in the transnational sphere: within international economic development, democracy building, human rights, and global climate change. She is coeditor of Cultures of Contact: Archaeology, Ethics, and Globalization and Making Roman Places: Past and Present.

Trinidad Rico is assistant professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University at Qatar. Her broad research interests include critical heritage theory, the construction of risk and expertise, and the mobilization of Islamic values in cultural heritage. She is coeditor of Cultural Heritage in the Arabian Peninsula: Debates, Discourses, and Practices.

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Heritage Keywords

Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage

By Kathryn Lafrenz, Samuels, Trinidad Rico

University Press of Colorado

Copyright © 2015 University Press of Colorado
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60732-384-6


1 Introduction

Heritage as Persuasion


Against the backdrop of increasing social change, an urgency courses through contemporary life for weaving the past into the present. The process of folding past conditions into present ones is selective; it has to be, given the richly textured inheritance bestowed on each passing generation (Trouillot 1995). The result over the past century plus has been a gradual refining of practices and ways of talking about what came before, encompassed by the concept of 'cultural heritage.' Cultural heritage is variously invoked as something (some object, site, building, landscape, traditional practice) with historic connections that must be properly tended to, as well as the field of expertise that has developed around this care.

Over time, or at critical moments provoked by shifting events, these practices and languages of heritage became incorporated into political and legal institutions with jurisdiction over local, regional (e.g., state), national, or international bodies of governance. National standards have traditionally been the most influential in institutionalizing how heritage is dealt with, but increasingly so too are international norms codified within an expanding oeuvre of global conventions, recommendations, lists, safeguards, management guidelines, and reports picked up as 'best practices.' This expansion at the national and international level follows broader social trends within which cultural heritage bears increasing relevance. Concomitant with increasing relevance, heritage must be made to work within these systems whose thrust is to norm and generalize. In this volume we offer one particular intervention into these joined processes of expansion and codification within the field of heritage.

We explore the rhetoric of cultural heritage, and we do so in two respects. First, we ask how heritage acts as a kind of rhetoric ('heritage as persuasion'), being mobilized creatively within a wide array of social, political, economic, and moral contexts where it gives persuasive force to particular standpoints, perspectives, and claims. This kind of heritage rhetoric can be witnessed especially within appeals to social justice, public sentiment, and the international community, as well as within struggles over cultural resources, where the object or site takes on significance well beyond its more mundane historical value. 'Heritage as persuasion' foregrounds the innovative reworking of cultural heritage and its expansive propensities flowing from its will to relevance. Yet, second, to have greatest efficacy such arguments must be made through existing institutional mechanisms and discourses, an existing 'rhetoric of heritage' that maps out the strength and range of possible uses and meanings within which cultural heritage can be mobilized. For the 'rhetoric of heritage,' one example would be the "Authorized Heritage Discourse" (AHD) outlined by Laurajane Smith (2006). However, accounts of AHD run the risk of painting a fairly bleak picture, of a consistent and hegemonic system immune to external challenges and change. Focusing on the 'rhetoric of heritage' will tend to emphasize codification and institutionalization. The point is that both sides of rhetoric — heritage as persuasion, and rhetoric of heritage; expansion and codification — are required in order to better account for change and development in heritage and foreground the creative work of heritage today.

Certain words give resonance to the tasks of heritage. As Raymond Williams (1976; revised and updated by Bennett, Grossberg, and Morris 2005) undertook in Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, there are "significant, binding words in certain activities and their interpretation" where "certain uses bound together certain ways of seeing culture and society" (Williams 1976: 15; quoted in Aldenderfer 2011: 487). We argue that heritage is an important lens for seeing culture and society in the present-day, and this volume addresses certain binding words for heritage, e.g., cultural property, intangible heritage, authenticity. However, the collection here is not exhaustive, nor would it attempt to be. We resist codification insofar as this volume highlights heritage as dynamic and resourceful, and we do so through a focus on rhetoric. Communities or practitioners may actively push back against such attempts at codification, and even succeed in changing the field of heritage practice. Such changes may in turn become the subject of codification. For example, the concept of intangible heritage coalesced as a critique of the material-based focus on built heritage and cultural property, and intangible heritage has since seen elaboration across a suite of international conventions, lists, and sites.

In other words, the process is iterative and open-ended, so any collection on heritage key concepts is necessarily provisional. At the same time, individual keywords gain important advantages from having coherent definitions, when the aim is to work through institutional mechanisms for change. Again, though, we place emphasis on mechanisms of change, and not definitional coherence endstop. Contributors to the volume showcase the creative possibilities of heritage unbound from codifying gestures, rather than attempt a synoptic 'authoritative' account of the particular heritage keyword under discussion.

We argue that through rhetoric we can begin to theorize and put into practice mechanisms for transforming prevailing heritage vocabularies, encouraging alternate meanings, and innovating new terminologies. Some terms face rhetorical culs-de-sac of sorts, whereby their narrow and increasingly empty usage circumscribes their potential for inspiring a diversity of meanings and perspectives. Other terms bear a rich history of legal and extra-legal uses, and might be characterized by specific institutional mechanisms for altering their legitimate meaning. In these cases extra attention must be paid to such mechanisms, to work from within institutions for transformation. Further, no term or concept exists in isolation, but together form persuasive assemblages, where each is contingent on the shifting relationships between other components embedded within a given context. The concept of 'cultural heritage' itself could be outlined via such assemblages of terms and their mobilizations, some of which I trace in the following discussion.

Cultural Heritage

First, it is also helpful to consider briefly how cultural heritage has been defined within the primary heritage conventions and literature on the subject. The UNESCO 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage specifically takes cultural heritage to mean monuments, groups of buildings, and sites (of outstanding universal value). The 1972 Convention addressed these categories of 'immovable cultural heritage,' in distinction to the moveable cultural heritage (e.g., paintings, sculptures, coins, manuscripts, etc.), called 'cultural property' at the time, covered by the UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.

The idea of 'intangible heritage' introduced in the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage effectively extended the concept of cultural heritage to include "practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills," e.g., spiritual practices, folklore, song, dance, cuisine, etc., "as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith" (Article II.1). The Council of Europe's 2005 Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (known as the Faro Convention) defined cultural heritage in relation to communities as "a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and place through time" (Article 2a). The definition provided by the Faro Convention situates cultural heritage within its broader social and political contexts, emphasizing the active role of individuals and communities in sustaining cultural heritage and transmitting it to future generations.

Such is the way cultural heritage has been codified within the international system, and national approaches are so numerous that it makes little sense to catalog them here. However, other conceptions of cultural heritage can be found within the growing literature on the subject. Cultural heritage is rarely explicitly defined by scholars, but one of the earliest interlocutors, David Lowenthal (1997: 4), quipped heritage to be "antiquities, roots, identity, belonging." He likened the new focus on heritage to the semantic shift seen in French patrimoine (patrimony) from "goods inherited from parents," to "bequests from remote forebears and cultural legacies in general." Sharing sensibilities with 'history' and 'tradition,' Lowenthal noted that heritage nevertheless enjoyed a much more extensive social relevance and reach (Lowenthal 1997: 3). Blake (2000: 68) reminds us that this social relevance is central to conceptions of heritage, comprising the 'cultural' half of the term 'cultural heritage.' In a similar vein, "heritage is that part of the past which we select in the present for contemporary purposes, whether they be economic or cultural (including political and social factors), and choose to bequeath to the future," the worth of which "rests less in their intrinsic merit than in a complex array of contemporary values, demands and even moralities" (Ashworth and Graham 2005: 7). This societal relevance, moreover, is tightly interwoven with instigating change: "the major use of heritage is to mobilize people and resources, to reform discourses, and to transform practices ... Don't be fooled by the talk of preservation: all heritage is change" (Hafstein 2012: 502).

The Rhetorical Edge of Cultural Heritage

Why rhetoric? We frame the volume around rhetoric to emphasize the creative capacities of heritage. In the following I explain in further detail why attention to the rhetorical nature of heritage is worthwhile for giving firmer grip to the present relevance of heritage. Recent work in anthropology has pursued the rhetorical nature of culture, where culture is understood not as a set of defining practices and beliefs, but rather a spectrum of possible actions and responses, a range of strategic practices acceptable in a given society (e.g., Coombe and Herman 2004; Meyer and Girke 2011; Strecker and Tyler 2009). Michael Carrithers (2005a, 2005b, 2009) has given the most penetrating vision on culture as rhetoric, arguing that it provides more direct access to the historicity and creativity of social life. He positions anthropology as a "knowledge of possibilities and not just of certainties" (Carrithers 2005a: 434), in which rhetoric can raise in sharp relief the historicity of social life, because "the schemas of culture are not in themselves determining, but are tools used by people to determine themselves and others ... to persuade and convince, and so to move the social situation from one state to another" (Carrithers 2005b: 581). The only constant is creativity.

Further, a number of previous works in archaeology and heritage studies can be pointed to that are of kindred spirit to a rhetoric approach, such as attention to narrative (Habu, Fawcett, and Matsunaga 2008; Joyce 2002; Pluciennik 1999), language (Colwell-Chanthaphonh 2009), semiotics (Preucel and Bauer 2001; Bauer 2013), dialogue (Harrison 2013), and discourse (Smith 2006; Waterton, Smith, and Campbell 2006). Rhetoric depends on narrative forms, language, semiotics, dialogue, and discourses, but we suggest rhetoric is more.

Rhetoric specifically mobilizes and motivates, giving reasons and courses for action. We are interested in the rhetoric of heritage because of the increasingly strategic role that heritage plays in a wide range of social, political, and economic struggles in our contemporary world. The past is mobilized in the present: it becomes a standpoint, a performance, a metaphor, an ironic juxtaposition, an alternative vision, or a competing narrative for making strategic moves in broader struggles. The will to relevance that distinguishes cultural heritage as a social phenomenon means that heritage must constantly adapt to changing social and political exigencies. We use rhetoric as a focusing device that illustrates transformative action and future-oriented possibilities, drawing on the past to suggest new social formations. For these reasons, we focus on heritage as a kind of strategy ('heritage as persuasion'), examined in this volume across the wide spectrum of contexts and agendas in which the past is implicated.

Therefore, investigating the rhetorical edge of cultural heritage might draw on elements of communication like narrative, discourse, and semiotics, but does so specifically with an eye toward its persuasive capacity to mobilize and motivate specific actions, especially actions that effect social and political change. Contributions to this volume do so by positioning heritage as a social practice, redefining conceptions of community, foregrounding the central role played by expertise, highlighting democratic practice, and above all underscoring mechanisms of change in cultural heritage.

For example, several chapters present daily practices and material culture as rhetorical strategies that break beyond discourse. A call for more research on heritage practices, alongside discourse, is highlighted by Malcolm A. Cooper (Chapter 10) based on his experience in cultural resource management in Great Britain. Cooper argues that discourse takes on a more determining character than actually exists because of the tendency to focus on discursive evidence like policy and legislation, without also taking into account associated heritage practices. Legislation and policies become translated through processes of decision-making that are influenced by, among other things, political pressure, media, public opinion, legal interpretation, and the specific perspectives brought by different disciplines, professions, departments, even individuals.

Robert Preucel and Regis Pecos (Chapter 14) also foreground practice, noting the practice-oriented nature of placemaking, which proceeds through both discursive and material practices including social institutions and technical practices. Placemaking is "a technology of reordering reality, and its success depends upon the degree to which this refashioning generates habitual action." Concepts like 'place,' 'heritage,' and 'cultural resource' have no separate meaning for the Cochiti Pueblo in the American Southwest, and "fail to express the core values of what it means to be of Cochiti." However, such terms are used strategically by combining them with Cochiti traditional core values, and provide an example of alternative heritage discourses being placed alongside dominant discourses, without being reduced to them.

Embodied ritual practice and performance are meanwhile the focus of Anna Karlström's (Chapter 2) reworking of the well-established term 'authenticity' in heritage research and management. Like Preucel and Pecos, her account makes room for alternate worldviews to coexist with prevailing heritage practices. Specifically she advocates for the acknowledgment and toleration of multiple frames of reference, in this case "alternative perceptions of materiality and preservation" where authenticity arises through embodied practice in local popular religion in Southeast Asia. Moreover, Karlström argues that for concepts deeply embedded in heritage management, like authenticity, they can not and should not be rejected outright, but rather worked through internally to pull out the fluid and dynamic strands of the concept.


Excerpted from Heritage Keywords by Kathryn Lafrenz, Samuels, Trinidad Rico. Copyright © 2015 University Press of Colorado. Excerpted by permission of University Press of Colorado.
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Table of Contents

List of Figures xi

List of Tables xiii

Key Acronyms xv

Heritage Conventions, Guidelines, and Legal Instruments Cited xvii

1 Introduction: Heritage as Persuasion Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels 3

2 Authenticity: Rhetorics of Preservation and the Experience of the Original Anna Karlström 29

3 Civil Society: Civil Society in the Field of Cultural Property Protection during Armed Conflict Sigrid Van der Auwera 47

4 Cultural Diversity: Cultivating Proud and Productive Citizens in Belizean Education Alicia Ebbitt McGill 63

5 Cultural Property: Building Communities of Stewardship beyond Nationalism and Internationalism Alexander A. Bauer 81

6 Democratization: The Performance of Academic Discourse on Democratizing Museums Cecilia Rodéhn 95

7 Difficult Heritage: Coming 'to Terms' with Sicily's Fascist Past Joshua Samuels 111

8 Equity: Polestar or Pretense? International Archaeological Tourism Development in 'Less Developed Countries' Jeffrey Adams 129

9 Heritage at Risk: The Authority and Autonomy of a Dominant Preservation Framework Trinidad Rico 147

10 Heritage Discourse: The Creation, Evolution, and Destruction of Authorized Heritage Discourses within British Cultural Resource Management Malcolm A. Cooper 163

11 Intangible Heritage: What Brain Dead Persons Can Tell Us about (Intangible) Cultural Heritage Klaus Zebbe 181

12 Memory: Towards the Reclamation of a Vital Concept Gabriel Moshenska 197

13 Natural Heritage: Heritage Ecologies and the Rhetoric of Nature Melissa F. Baird 207

14 Place: Cochiti Pueblo, Core Values, and Authorized Heritage Discourse Robert Preucel Regis Pecos 221

15 Bights: Heritage Rights and the Rhetoric of Reality in Pre-Revolution Tunisia Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels 243

16 Sustainability: Primordial Conservationists, Environmental Sustainability, and the Rhetoric of Pastoralist Cultural Heritage in East Africa Paul J. Lane 259

17 Alter Words: A De-dichotimization in Heritage Discourse Trinidad Rico 285

About the Authors 293

Index 297

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