chapter  7
26 Pages

Heritage, diversity and human rights

I have argued that one of the implications of the World Heritage Convention’s assertion of universality was the inability of the World Heritage Committee to ignore the claims for representation that emerged as a result of the global application of a specific set of discontinuous, modern, post-Enlightenment ideas about heritage and the past, which had developed in Euro-American contexts over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to countries and communities with radically different conceptions of heritage. This, coupled with the abundance and globalisation of heritage in late-modern societies (as a consequence not only of the work of UNESCO and its advisory bodies, but also of broader processes of the restructuring of global economies, the growth of international heritage tourism, and the increasingly transnational flows of people, capital, ideas and images), generated a series of conceptual ‘crises’ for heritage that have seen radical transformations in how it is defined, managed and understood in the contemporary world. One of the major implications of this series of crises was a shift towards more ‘representative’ models of heritage, away from the ‘canonical’ model of heritage that emphasised aspects of high culture, and an attendant shift in the definition of heritage, which came to encompass a broader range of material and non-material entities (in particular, landscapes, traditional cultural practices, and the spaces in which they are performed) and the relationships between them.