Heritage as a new mode of cultural production

I. Heritage is the transvaluation of the obsolete, the mistaken, the outmoded, the dead, and the defunct.

      A. BKG five propositions

 

        1. Heritage is a mode of cultural production in the present that has recourse to the past.
        2. Heritage is a “value added” industry.
        3. Heritage produces the local for export.
        4. A hallmark of heritage is the problematic relationship of its objects to its instruments.
        5. A key to heritage is its virtuality, whether in the presence or the absense of actualities.

 

B. Heritage is there prior to its identification, evaluation, conservation, and celebration. (This is a linguistic irony, if heritage produces something new in the present.)

C. The values added by heritage are pastness, exhibition, difference, and where possible indigeneity.

      1. Values of heritage:

 

        a. obsolescence. Continuing culture is not heritage.
        b. Exhibition: heritage converting locations into destinations and tourism making them economically viable as exhibits of themselves. Tourism thrives on startling juxtapositions, tourist surreal–the foreigness of what is presented to its context of presentation.
        c. Difference: Sameness is the real problem of the tourist industry. Infrastructure and interface add value and generate revenue, but works counter to the unmediated encounter that tourism promises.

 

2. Sameness of hotels, transportation, and restaurants. Vertical integration places these services in hands of multi-national companies.

D. Local for export. Tourism does not export goods for consumption, but imports the tourists as consumers.

      1. Heritage produces “hereness.”
      2. As an industry urban tourism’s instruments are planning and urban redevelopment. More people will pass through Ellis Island as tourists than entered as immigrants.

 

II. The relationship of the objects of heritage to its instruments.

      A. Instruments: Dance teams, heritage performers, craft cooperatives, cultural centers, arts festivals, museums, exhibitions, recordings, archives, indigenous media, and cultural curricula.

 

        1. These add value to the cultural forms they perform, teahc, exhibit, circulate, and market.
        2. The instruments are not invisible or inconsequential.

 

B. Instruments proclaim the foreignness of the objects to their contexts of presentation.

      1. Also conflate their effects (preservation) with the instruments for producing them.
      2. Instruments connect heritage production to the present and keep alive claims to the past.

 

C. Again, the tourist surreal

      1.Brecht (but to represent opposing sides of an argument, archetypes, or stereotypes) and mimetic (imitation)
      2. A critical site for production of meanings other than the heritage message. (reconciliation, multi-culturalism or biculturalism)

 

        a. Calls for realness require the staging to be muted or concealed.
        b. Ethnographic realism is a political device.
        c. The kind of authenticity that requires the recession of the frame represses what is at stake for those whose heritage is exhibited.
        d. The interface–folk festivals, museum exhibitions, historical villages, concert parties, post card are cultural forms in their own right and engines of meaning.

 

III. Virtuality–to rethink authenticity, invention and simulation is to look at events where authenticity is irrelevant. Collaborative hallucinations.

      A. Actual destinations, virtual places

 

        1. The production of hereness, in the absense of actualities, depends increasingly on virtualities.

 

          a. Old Milwaukee is a phantom. So is old Richmond, Virginia, Old St Louis, Old Los Angeles.

 

2. Memory requires its prostheses.

      a. “Increasingly, we travel to actual destinations to experience virtual places.”

 

3. The beauty of tourism is that the number of products devised to interest the tourist is virtually unlimited, and particularly prone to fashion.

      a. Is there any difference between entertainment and experience?

 

4. Actuality and virtuality are different approaches to the production of realness.

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