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Publication details for Dr Thomas Yarrow

Yarrow, T. (2017). Where Knowledge Meets: heritage expertise at the intersection of people, perspective, and place. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23(S1): 95-109.

Author(s) from Durham


Drawing on ethnographic research with heritage professionals in Scotland, the essay explores meetings as organizational devices for differentiating and relating various forms of epistemic, social, and material context. The account describes how the bureaucratic ideal of institutional consistency is achieved through staged encounters between the perspectives of the various people who meet, and the buildings that are the objects of their meeting. These ethnographic examples are used to develop two linked points. Firstly, it is suggested that the lens of ‘meeting’ complicates the relatively monolithic characterizations of heritage expertise evident in widely influential deconstructive critiques of heritage practice. Secondly, it is argued that heritage practitioners’ own accounts of these negotiations highlight material and spatial dimensions of bureaucratic conduct that have that have received relatively little ethnographic attention in prevalent textually orientated accounts.