chapter  5
15 Pages

Heritage according to scale


In order to analyse the nature of heritage, or ‘patrimony’, we should start from the Latin form, referring to inheritance from the father (which, in a society that has been patriarchal since the dawn of history, is essentially the same as family inheritance). Patrimony is the inheritance from the father, the family inheritance distributed between brothers from generation to generation, and which constitutes the source of their wealth – wealth that these heirs conserve, augment, lose, squander, convert and, in turn, pass on. The notion of inheritance has been understood in the context of family for a large part of our history. Even the concepts of land and vassalage, debts and opprobrium, have at one time formed part of this family inheritance. But there can be no notion of collective inheritance without the more basic notion of collectivism, a concept that did not clearly emerge until the bourgeois revolutions and the fall of the ancien régime. When society is capable of looking at itself as a historical subject, it can also begin to consider heritage as a collective inheritance that is passed down through the generations. This does not change the nature of heritage; it simply means that in addition to the family inheritance, there also exists a collective inheritance that the new generations manage according to the principal demands of their society. In other words, collectivism is a necessary condition in order to arrive at the notion of heritage that we are interested in, and which we understand to a certain extent, if not fully.