ABSTRACT

The ‘production of heritage’ is a truism - history is made consecutively and collectively, now becomes then, the everyday becomes rare, and rarity becomes desirable and attainable at a cost. This process becomes politicised when we look at heritage either as a product or as a process that can and is constantly adjusted and adapted according to requirements. As with any product, we have to ask what it is for, who does it serve, how much will it cost and what benefit does it give.

Heritage as narrative - the value of selection

References to the past are increasingly used to orientate construction and to build place significance. This trend brought some specific terms into fashion. ‘Heritage’ is one of them and has been largely promoted as a ‘value’ linked to local specificity and national character. Its use involves slippery concepts such as culture, memory and identity, which are fundamental to the political and social discourse at the local and global scale.

History as an unfolding process - style or substance

Is history the result of human action or the context for human action? Do we frame our future with the defining frame of the past, or is history simply the residue of our daily activity? This is more than a question of semantics, it is a question of priorities.

We believe that the communities who are interested users of historic places are the source and custodians of ‘significance’. The chapters that follow explore this assertion, concluding with snapshots of how this can be realised in practice.