chapter  2
27 Pages

BUILDING HERITAGE: ‘Words in stone’?

Buildings are one of the most pronounced forms of heritage in most countries – a phenomenon that has become globally institutionalised through organisations such as UNESCO, with its World Heritage lists, and the spread of heritage-preservation legislation.1 As one of the biggest forms of material culture and usually durable over considerable periods of time, they are especially likely to be used as evidence of presence or claimed continuities of peoples and identities. Moreover, they are also widely seen as somehow conveying meanings or effects directly and across time – or as acting as ‘words in stone’, as we have already noted that Albert Speer, architect of many Nazi buildings, hoped. Whether this is so and how it might work is much debated.