chapter  6
13 Pages

Dialogues and heritages in the digital public sphere

WithAreti Galani, Rhiannon Mason, Bethany Rex

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The chapters in this volume have suggested that the term ‘dialogue’ often raises normative expectations related to its potential as a vehicle for positive change. As Nicholas Burbules (2000), one of the leading theorists in dialogic approaches to education, proclaims in the opening section of his analysis of the limits of dialogue as a critical pedagogy:

It seems that hardly anyone has a bad word to say against dialogue. A broad range of political orientations hold out the aim of ‘fostering dialogue’ as a potential resolution to social conflict and as a basis for rational public deliberation.

(p. 251) This also holds true for the fields of heritage and museum studies and practice since the 1990s, as well as in the European policies concerned with intercultural dialogue, as outlined in this volume. Rodney Harrison (2012) similarly provides strong support for this sentiment when he argues for dialogicality to be seen as an inherent aspect of the conceptualisation of heritage. Through the lens of a ‘dialogical model’, he argues, heritage ‘is seen as emerging from the relationship between people, objects, places and practices’ (p. 4). In this context, the concepts of materiality, connectivity and dialogue are ‘central to understanding the role of heritage in contemporary societies’ (ibid.) and allow us to deal more productively with uncertainty, crisis and controversy through the adoption of ‘hybrid forums’ in decision-making. Given such promise attributed to dialogues and dialogicality, this volume is a timely and critical intervention which has examined and tested the potential of both.