What Heritage Pattern Do We Weave?

Positive academic discussions

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People construct their heritage from multiple layers of identity-based meaning. My visit to Pompeii was viewed through the lens of an archaeologist with no direct ancestral connections. Others may find a visit to Pompeii, the equivalent of punching a ticket to Disneyland. Some my regard Pompeii as a home to cultural ancestors. A feeling of shared heritage.

Paul Ramírez, in his paper “What Can We Weave? Authority, Reconstructing, and Negotiating Heritages Through Archaeological Open-Air Museums” uses the analogy of weaving a textile to get at the complexity of heritage.

I refer instead to images of weaving such as strands, threads, fibres, and baskets. Ultimately, this imagery is utilized to holistically consider the many aspects and agents that take part in heritage work, in the process.

Ramírez goes on to say that

The weavers of heritage are numerous and with their designs in mind. These designs become images that aim to fulfill differing needs and desires as brands.

I think using the idea of interweaving strands of thread to get at the complexity of heritage is an interesting idea. From this perspective, I wonder what the overall pattern is? If everybody is weaving their aspect of heritage, than how can we develop a finished product with a recognizable design. Is it abstract art?

In this analogy, I think it is the authorized heritage experts that layout the design of the textile to fit in conflicting notions of heritage. Undoubtedly a biased process, but one we rely upon for a cohesive public narrative.

Another important aspect of the paper is the discussion of heritage as related to open-air archaeology sites. Ramírez offers the intriguing idea that open-air archaeology sites, where archaeological research is still uncovering the heritage of the past, create places where people can participate in multiple heritages. I do think it becomes a type of scientific heritage, but one that changes as archaeologists unearth new information.

Sources

Ramírez, Paul Edward Montgomery. 2020. What Can We Weave? Authority, Reconstructing, and Negotiating Heritages Through Archaeological Open-Air Museums. Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 16: 1-27.

Smith, Laurajane. 2006. Uses of Heritage. Routledge, London.

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