Conflicted Concepts of Cultural Heritage
Those who ask how social entities relate to the past, enter a field defined by competing interpretations and contested practices of a collectively shared heritage. Dissent and conflict among heritage communities represent productive moments in the negotiation of these varying constructs of the past, identities, and heritage. At the same time, they lead to omissions, the overwriting and amendment of existing constructs. A closer look at all that is suppressed, excluded or rejected opens up new perspectives: It reveals how social groups are formed through public disputes upon the material foundations of heritage constructs.
Taking the concept of censorship, the volume engages with the exclusionary and inclusionary mechanisms that underlie the construction of heritage and thus social identities. Censorship is understood here as a discursive strategy in public debates. In current debates, allegations of censorship surface primarily in cases where the handling of a certain heritage constructs is subjected to critical evaluation, or on the contrary, needs to be protected from criticism or even destruction. The authors trace the connection between heritage and identity and show that identity constructs are not only manifested within heritage but are actively negotiated through it.