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The Signifying System of Heritage: the Case of the Historic City of Nablus
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Urban Planning and Environment, Urban and Regional Studies. (RuMM)
2012 (English)In: Social & cultural geography (Print), ISSN 1464-9365, E-ISSN 1470-1197Article in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

This study investigates the role of civil society organizations in heritage practices in Palestine,where conservation is under pressure from the Israeli occupation and international interventions.It argues that current approaches to heritage focus on physical heritage as a ‘signifier’ for localcultural qualities and meanings, overlooking how the meanings of heritage are continuouslyreconstructed, influenced by the socio-political conditions under occupation. Drawing onWilliams’ definition of culture as a ‘realized signifying system’, these approaches are reversedby addressing the civil society organizations as ‘the signifier’, unfolding the socio-politicaldeficits of current approaches.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2012.
Keyword [en]
Civil Society, Heritage Practices, Signifying System, Occupation, Palestine
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-93687OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-93687DiVA: diva2:517390
Projects
Heritage in Authority-Making
Note
QP 2012Available from: 2012-04-23 Created: 2012-04-23 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Heritage in Authority-Making: Appropriating Interventions inThree Socio-Political Contexts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Heritage in Authority-Making: Appropriating Interventions inThree Socio-Political Contexts
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The perpetual evolution of the value of heritage in urban development is producing newsocio-spatial realities, shaped by different relationships of power at multiple scales.Heritage has always played an important role in the construction of individual andgroup identities, but is now increasingly seen as a capital for the making of cityidentity. Although professional heritage practices have attempted to embrace a similaror parallel vision, they are likely to overlook how interventions in heritage challengeidentity, meaning and sense of place. This thesis employs methods of discursiveanalysis to investigate the evolution and the appropriation of heritage in three sociopoliticalcontexts: Botswana, a post-colonial society; Palestine, an occupied society;and Sweden, a developed Western society. It also uncovers the ways authority is put towork through the discursive field of heritage in historic environments.Heritage in Palestine under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, and theIsraeli Occupation has been engulfed by both armed and discursive struggles overhistory, identity, and superiority. Narratives of the ‘Holy Land’ in addition to thepressures of the occupation forces and international interventions have shaped currentheritage practices in the Historic City of Nablus. In Botswana, Western planning ideashave been promoted in both the colonial and post-colonial eras, with little attention tolocal culture. The socio-spatial realities this produces have divorced the Batswana fromthe familiar and played an authoritarian role in defining valuable heritage in thedevelopment of Shoshong village and Sowa town. Heritage in the town of Ystad,Sweden, has since the late nineteenth century been regulated and legitimized through aconsistent inscription of a medieval identity on the town landscape, overlooking socialand spatial consequences.These findings are presented in four papers that each addresses a specific aspect ofheritage in urban development. An introductory monograph links the articles,developing theoretical analyses on how heritage-authority relations. This discussiongoes beyond direct practices of authority in management of physical heritage. Instead,it uncovers how heritage is utilised to gain and reinforce authority over identity politicsin historic environments. It also sheds light on how discursive struggles over meaningin the three cases are influenced by a ‘universalized heritage discourse’. In thisdiscourse, heritage is perceived as physical things representing a specific version of thepast, framed by European values and controlled by professional expertise andconventional knowledge. This discourse is rooted in the ‘authorized heritage discourse’that emerged in Europe in the nineteenth century and disseminated globally throughinternational treaties on heritage. Situating site-specific interventions in their social,cultural, and political contexts would allow for productive dissonance, rather thannarrow mediations of competing views. The virtue of working with heritage in the faceof authority at different spatial scales is stressed as one way to build sufficient capacityin heritage practices, capacity that would allow individuals and social groups to freelynegotiate their identity against any intervention in their spaces of heritage.

Abstract [sv]

Den ständigt pågående omvandlingen och utvecklingen av det kulturella arvetproducerar nya rumsliga villkor, formade av såväl intern socio-politisk dynamik somexterna krafter. Kulturarv har alltid spelat en central roll i individers och gruppersidentitetsskapande och uppfattas nu allt oftare även som ett kapital i konstruktionen avstäder och regioner. Dock saknar kulturarvspraktikerna ofta förståelse för de sociopolitiskakonsekvenserna och kan därmed inte på ett medvetet sätt hantera dessaaspekter. Denna avhandling undersöker utvecklingen av det kulturella arvet och dessinverkan i tre socio-politiska kontexter: Botswana, ett postkolonialt samhälle; Palestina,ett ockuperat samhälle; och Sverige, ett västerländskt samhälle. En analys av lokalainterventioner i de tre områdena visar hur auktoritet kommer till uttryck genomdiskurser om kulturarvet i historiska miljöer.I Palestina har - under det ottomanska styret, det brittiska mandatet och den israeliskaockupationen - det kulturella arvet utgjort en arena kännetecknad av såväl militär somdiskursiv kamp för historia, identitet och makt. Så till exempel präglar narrativ om ’detheliga landet’ nutida praktiker kring kulturarv i den av historien präglade stadenNablus. I Botswana har västerländskt utvecklade idéer för stadsplanering praktiseratsunder både den koloniala och den postkoloniala eran, vilket formaturbaniseringsstrategier ofta utan hänsyn till lokal kultur. Den sociala och rumsligaverklighet som därigenom skapats har lett till en tilltagande distansering mellanBotswanierna och deras kulturarv. Detta fick avgörande konsekvenser vid definitionenav värdefullt kulturarv under utvecklingen av Shoshong village och Sowa town. IYstad har det kulturella arvet under sena nittonhundratalet reglerats och legitimeratsgenom framhållandet av en medeltida identitet, en identitet som starkt formatstadsmiljön men men vars sociala och rumsliga konsekvenser inte beaktats.Dessa resultat presenteras i fyra artiklar, som var och en lyfter en specifikfrågeställning kring kulturellt arv. I en ”kappa” kopplas artiklarna samman ochanalyseras särskilt med avseende på hur det kulturella arvet involveras iauktoritetsskapande,. Analysen visar att auktoritet kommer till uttryck genomdiskursiva praktiker kring kulturellt arv. Samtidigt som varje fall präglas av enkontextuell och situerad diskurs, påverkas alla av en ’universell kulturarvsdiskurs’.Inom ramen för denna universella diskurs uppfattas kulturarv som fysiska tingomgärdade av sociala och kulturella erfarenheter ofta kopplade till europeiskavärderingar, under kontroll av professionella experter och i linje med konventionellkunskap. Denna diskurs har sina rötter i den ’auktoriserade kulturarvsdiskursen’ somväxte fram i Europa under artonhundratalet och spred sig globalt genom internationellkultursamverkan. En av avhandlingens slutsatser är att en situering av platsspecifikainterventioner i sina komplexa sociala, kulturella och politiska kontexter kan erbjuda enför samhället produktiv dissonans, snarare än den begränsning som oundvikligen blirföljden av ambitionen att snabbt komma fram till konsensus. Genom att synliggöra hurauktoritet kommer till uttryck genom kulturarvets olika rumsliga nivåer, kan en ökadkapacitet och förståelse för socio-politiska aspekter också byggas upp ikulturarvspraktiken.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2012. xiii, 74 p.
Series
Trita-SOM , ISSN 1653-6126 ; 2012:06
Keyword
heritage, meaning, authority, discourse, appropriation, historic environments, kulturarv, mening, auktoritet, diskurs, historisk miljö
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-93685 (URN)978-91-7501-308-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-05-04, F3, Lindstedsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20120424Available from: 2012-04-24 Created: 2012-04-23 Last updated: 2012-04-24Bibliographically approved

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