Confronting Absence – Relation and Difference in the Affective Qualities of Heritage Sites
Processes of deterioration and decay and experiences of absence that are engendered by these processes have become the focus of much research in human geography, sociology, material culture studies and the heritage field. The present contribution will build on this research and further qualify it by asking questions about the ‘who’. Who can relate to these absences? For whom do they become present? What is needed to let oneself be affected by something that might be closely related to disgust and repulsion or at least be avoided in regular routines? What role do social and cultural differences play in these processes? How does this mix of material and socio-cultural processes figure in heritage management? These questions pertain directly to the democratisation of heritage, as the answers affect the different abilities and requirements for participating in heritage for different groups and individuals.