Critical Heritage Studies
“Critical heritage studies is about the present, not the past
- “[H]eritage [is] a practice that is constructed in the present” (Emerick 2014).
- Heritage is “constantly chosen, recreated and renegotiated in the present” (Harrison 2013, p. 165).
- “[H]eritage [is] a production of the past in the present” (Harrison 2013, p. 32).
- Heritage is how the past becomes “active and alive” in the present (Silverman, Waterton, and Watson 2017, p. 8).
- Heritage “is always bringing the past into the present through historical contingency and strategic appropriations, deployments, redeployments, and creation of connections and reconnection” (Silverman, Waterton, and Watson, 2017, p. 4).
- “[H]eritage is used to construct, reconstruct and negotiate a range of identities and social and cultural values and meanings in the present” (Smith 2006, p. 3).
Critical heritage studies explores contemporary relationships between people, heritage, and power
- “Critical heritage studies is a reaction against the AHD (Authorized Heritage Discourse)” (Smith, Shackel, and Campbell 2012, p. 4) (see Smith  for a definition of the AHD; I also cover the AHD on this site).
- The negotiation of the meanings of heritage is “a struggle over power … because heritage is itself a political resource” (Smith 2006, p. 281).
- “[H]eritage is understood as being produced through sociopolitical processes reflecting society’s power structures” (Logan and Wijesuriya 2015, p. 569).
Heritage is inherently dissonant and created through a continual process of conflict and negotiation
- Heritage is constructed from “narratives of conflict” (Daly and Chan, 2015, p. 492).
- Heritage is “about the negotiation of … conflicts” (Smith 2006, p. 82).
- Heritage “effaces the subtle, personal, contingent practices, expressions, and claims enacted in negotiating both the meaning and content of the stuff of heritage” (Breglia 2006, p. 3).
- Heritage is “dissonant” (Ashworth and Tunbridge 1996).
Heritage is a process (not a thing) and inherently intangible
- Heritage is “about a continuing, experimental dialog with the past: ‘process’ rather than ‘product’, and ‘heritage’ as a verb rather than noun” (Emerick 2014, p. 190).
- Critical heritage studies is a counterpoint to an “epistemological bias towards scientistic materialism” (Winter 2013).
- “If heritage is a mentality, a way of knowing and seeing, then all heritage becomes, in a sense, ‘intangible’” (Smith 2006, p. 43).
- “All heritage is intangible” and is negotiated via sociocultural processes (Harrison 2010, 3).”
Critical heritage studies engages with and attempt to correct or improve conservation practice
- Critical heritage studies “tackl[es] the thorny issues those in the conservation profession are often reluctant to acknowledge” (Winter 2013).
- “[T]he future development of heritage studies will require both provocation and engagement with professional practice” (Witcomb and Buckley 2013, p. 574)
- “The culture of [conservation] practice and the way expertise is used has to change” (Emerick 2014, p. 226); “[T[he emerging field of critical heritage studies can offer … alternative ways of ‘doing’ heritage” (ibid., p. 5).
“In western modernity, music has been commonly thought of as a bounded object, product, text or thing with a fixed and definable essence, as suggested by the notion of ‘the music itself’. Yet as Born emphasises, music is never singular but always a multiplicity, and it exists only in and through its multiple and changing mediations. There is, thus, no musical object or text that stands outside mediation (Born 2010, pp. 87–88). Contributing to this process of mediation are heritage practices such as the construction of music exhibitions and museums, monuments and tours, collections and archives, books and films.3 Material places and artefacts are, thus, an important aspect of popular music heritage and our concern is with heritage practices that relate these material sites to musicians and musical sounds and performances. In the UK heritage plaques have increasingly been used in this way, marking places where musicians lived or died, places in which music was made or, as with the Ziggy Stardust plaque, people and places imagined through music. These plaques represent different and often competing interests and, thus, provide a fascinating focus for research into the politics of music, memory and place whilst also prompting debates about musical value that have been so central to popular music studies.”