You should now have a clear understanding of the history of the World Heritage Convention and the World Heritage List, and the selection criteria that are used to justify the inclusion of items on the list. You have also begun to take a critical approach to the concept of World Heritage by undertaking a close critical reading of the Venice Charter, World Heritage Convention, and the World Heritage Criteria for Selection.
I hope that several linked concepts have become clear to you. Heritage is not, as many believe, so much about the past as it is about the present. Heritage looks to the past, but it is something that is produced in the present for a particular purpose within human groups and societies. Following on from this idea is the concept that heritage is a form of ‘representation’, which has the potential both to include and exclude certain members of society. When we talk about heritage as a form of representation, we refer to the way in which heritage objects, places and practices come to ‘stand for’ something else, whether that be an idealised sense of nationhood and its citizens, an ethnic group, or a particular set of histories and ideas about the past. For this reason, heritage is also about the power to control the past and to produce it in the present. In western societies, heritage is connected with a series of authorised heritage discourses (AHDs), which are tied up in the various official texts and charters by which heritage is managed.