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What is heritage?
What is heritage?

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5 Themes in heritage studies

Now watch ‘Themes in heritage studies’ (duration 5 minutes). It raises a series of open questions about the nature of heritage and heritage studies as an academic discipline, and points to the broad themes that we will attempt to address.

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Themes in heritage studies
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Activity 5

Timing: 10 minutes
  • Is heritage about the past or the present?
  • How does heritage form the basis for our sense of collective identity?
  • Can heritage transcend local meaning to acquire universal value?
  • How do societies use heritage to remember (and forget) the events of the past?
  • How do authority and power play out through heritage?
  • How is the performance of heritage a form of social action?
  • How do heritage decisions affect people’s lives?
  • And how might heritage choices bring local people into conflict with the state?


These are complex questions, and how you respond will depend to a large extent on your point of view regarding what heritage ‘is’ and its value to global human societies. But these questions should frame the way in which you approach all of the case studies in global heritage.