chapter  7
26 Pages

Transcultural heritage: reconfiguring identities and the public sphere

Given that historically heritage has been entangled with attempts to forge and maintain bounded, homogeneous identities, especially of the nation-state, a major question is whether heritage is capable of accommodating other kinds of identities, especially those that might be considered, variously, ‘hybrid’, ‘open’ or ‘transcultural’. This question has arisen especially in the face of recognition of heterogeneity within nations arising from immigration – from other parts of Europe and, especially, from outside. This has prompted further questions concerning whether it is possible to draw on memory and heritage to form new identity stories that include rather than exclude cultural diversity and ‘mixed’ culture. Is it possible to have a common heritage and a ‘multi-heritage’ simultaneously? Are some forms of past presencing more or less amenable to incorporation within a more ‘inclusive’ national identity? And can or will new identity formations and memories displace or be felt in the same ways as those that preceded them? These and similar questions arise too in relation to European identity and formation of a European public sphere, as noted in Chapter 1. Can and should a ‘European heritage’ be identified that transcends national and other diversities within Europe? Are there alternatives to replicating national-style models at another scale? In many ways, these questions probe at the very nature and significance of heritage, for they open up examination of the usually assumed consonance between past, people, location and culture, especially material culture, and draw attention to possible alternative ways of past presencing.