chapter  4
27 Pages

Late-modernity and the heritage boom

Chapter 3 provides a brief history of the idea of ‘heritage’, which found expression in the 1972 World Heritage Convention. This particular constellation of ideas about the relationship between the traces of the past and people in the present developed in North America, Britain and Western Europe (and several of their contemporary and former colonies) as a result of the emergence of the idea of the public sphere, and in the context of widespread industrialisation and accompanying social change associated with the experience of modernity, in which the past was perceived as a vulnerable and threatened resource. The development of the earliest ‘lists’ of heritage set in motion a trend for heritage to become increasingly bureaucratised and removed from the realm of everyday life. Chapter 3 also charts the way in which heritage became ever more broadly defined and strictly controlled as a result of state intervention and management throughout the course of the twentieth century. These ideas about heritage were deployed strategically by UNESCO within the particular political contexts of a series of early international safeguarding campaigns, and established the idea that there were some buildings, places and landscapes that were so important that their management was a concern not only for nations, but for the international community. The World Heritage Convention was developed as a document to codify and operationalise these concepts.