chapter  9
7 Pages

UNSETTLING DIFFICULT HERITAGE

I have also highlighted assumptions that the different forms of negotiation may involve – assumptions about, for example, the nature of investment, of material agency, the dangers of forgetting or repressing, or the imperative to avoid historical repetition. Such assumptions act as cultural ‘givens’, not necessarily for all those involved but for many of them. As such, they play a part in shaping actions in ways that may seem obvious or inevitable to those concerned – but that might be otherwise. As the account here has shown, the kinds of assumptions made – and the ways of negotiating that they inform – may alter over time. Likewise, those made in relation to other heritages, difficult and relatively comfortable, will not necessarily be identical. Part of my argument here is that attention should be given to exploring specific cases and also the untidiness of practice. Local specificities, actors and contingencies are ingredients in the shaping not only of the kinds of approaches that are taken but also those that are even contemplated, as well a what is ruled out. While recognising this specificity, however, nevertheless, at the same time, I expect that many of the assumptions – which act as partial negotiating frames – that I identify here will be found elsewhere. This is because heritage operates as what Collier and Ong call a ‘global assemblage’ – a globally recognised cultural form, made up of heterogeneous practices, technologies and ideas.1 Like any global assemblage it is always, inevitably, locally realised, despite its prevalence; and in its local realisation it will be unique, even while it is simultaneously widespread. As I have attempted to chart here, what happens locally does so in multiple interactions with various elsewheres – embodied in people, practices and technologies (e.g. visitors, exhibition advisory committees, books read and visits made by history workers, legislation and funding opportunities). How heritage is negotiated in Nuremberg is always, though to varying extents, conducted in relation to how heritage is done in other places. This

is so in cases of conscious avoidance of doing likewise as well as in cases of emulation. And it is so not only when city officials respect the spirit as well as the letter of the conservation regulations but also when they seek to flout or get round them. Because of the inevitability of local specification – or territorialisation – and its working out in practice, we need local studies; and we cannot conclude that they tell us about all other realisations. But they tell us about some. They alert us to possibilities. And they give us starting points for identifying patterns, and gathering analogies and differences to work beyond the case at hand.