publications // From the ‘monumental’ to the ‘living’ heritage: a shift in perspective
Chiara Bortolotto, 2007, « From the ‘monumental’ to the ‘living’ heritage: a shift in perspective », in John Carman and Roger White (edited by), World Heritage: global challenges, local solutions. Proceedings of the conference at Ironbridge, 4th-7th May 2006, British Archaeological Reports International Series, Archeopress, Oxford, p. 39-45.
After the adoption of the 1972 Convention the meaning and definition of Cultural Heritage went through adjustment and reconsideration which led to a broadening of the idea of cultural heritage. From the end of the nineties long-claimed requests for the recognition of the importance of ethnological heritage became stronger thanks to the increasing worries about cultural homogenization as a consequence of the globalization process. This process of renewal culminated in the adoption of the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage in October 2003 and the proposal of a deep renewal in the understanding and approach to heritage as a whole. This new perspective conceives heritage as a wider cultural whole and not only extends the Unesco ‘brand’ to intangible cultural expressions but widens and redefines the previous meaning and definition of Cultural Heritage. Intangible features are more and more underlined and considered as decisive in the evaluation process of World Heritage sites focusing now on the processes (social, biological or cultural) embodied in the sites. Unesco thus aims to conceive heritage not only as a consecrated masterpiece of the past to be venerated and preserved but as a symbolic and living space to be appropriated by local communities, the mirror of a collective and active memory. The idea of turning living cultures into heritage is however not free from contradictions. The paper shows, in an analytical perspective, some theoretical contradictions of the notion of intangible heritage and the new challenge facing cultural policy makers.