Time and Heritage: stability and conflict in global and local cultures
A research project of the Department of Archaeology.
A concept inextricably linked with Time is that of Heritage. Heritage, in its cultural and natural form, is all around us. We experience our life and form our identities with aspects of the past and our environment, which are interpreted and reinterpreted time and time again. Both personal and community identities are formed through tangible objects and landscapes and intangible legacies and they have become key elements in sustaining a sense of pride. Yet the key role of heritage and its potential to unite and create a sense of community may also come to instantiate divisions. Tensions may arise over who should control stewardship and the benefits of heritage, and there are competing claims to the past from different ethnic, local and national communities worldwide. Conflicts have appeared where colonialism dispossessed the 'native' inhabitants of their territories and turned them into 'others', and the rights given to professionals over heritage control have been challenged. These disputes deeply affect the ethical and legal framework of heritage.
The 'Time and Heritage: stability and conflict in global and local cultures' project aims to explore the potential of heritage in community stability and solving conflict. As objectives it has:
1. To assess the role of national (e.g. English Heritage, National Trust) and international (e.g. UNESCO, UNEP, ICOMOS, WTO) bodies in the legislation, protection and promotion of heritage.
2. To appraise the ethical imperatives and difficulties of stewardship and the benefits of cultural and natural heritage.
3. To evaluate the competing understandings of heritage sites and their commodification as assets through tourism.
4. To examine the moral responsibilities of museums to indigenous communities whose cultural and natural heritage they hold. In relation to this, to debate the challenges posed to national and international cultural and natural heritage legislation from competing claims by local and ethnic communities to them and recognition of different heritages.
5. To analyse the disputes that have emerged in relation to looting and the illicit trade in antiquities and natural products.
6. To survey the debate on global repatriation and restitution of artefacts and the tensions created by the re-labelling of colonial museums as 'universal' museums.
To look at conflict resolution in struggles over cultural and natural heritage in conflict areas.
The proposal would draw together interests from the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage (CECH), the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action and its links with BeaconNE, the Durham Global Security Institute (DGSI), and the Institute of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (IMRS). It has as members staff from the departments of Anthropology, Archaeology, Classics, Earth Sciences, Geography,
Philosophy, and the school of Law, Government & International Affairs, and of Modern Languages and Cultures