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Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities

Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities

Bryony Onciul
Michelle L. Stefano
Stephanie Hawke
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities
    Book Description:

    Across the global networks of heritage sites, museums, and galleries, the importance of communities to the interpretation and conservation of heritage is increasingly being recognised. Yet the very term "meaningful community engagement" betrays a myriad of contrary approaches and understandings. Who is a community? How can they engage with heritage and why would they want to? How do communities and heritage professionals perceive one another? What does it mean to "engage"? These questions unsettle the very foundations of community engagement and indicate a need to unpick this important but complex trend. Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities critically explores the latest debates and practices surrounding community collaboration. By examining the different ways in which communities participate in heritage projects, the book questions the benefits, costs and limitations of community engagement. Whether communities are engaging through innovative initiatives or in response to economic, political or social factors, there is a need to understand how such engagements are conceptualised, facilitated and experienced by both the organisations and the communities involved.BR> Bryony Onciul is Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter; Michelle Stefano is the Co-Director of Maryland Traditions, the folklife program for the state of Maryland and Visiting Assistant Professor in American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Stephanie Hawke is a project manager and fundraiser, working on a range of projects aiming to engage communities with cultural heritage. Contributors: Gregory Ashworth, Evita Busa, Helen Graham, Julian Hartley, Stephanie Hawke, Carl Hogsden, Shatha Abu Khafajah, Nicole King, Bernadette Lynch, Billie Lythberg, Conal McCarthy, Ashley Minner, Wayne Ngata, Bryony Onciul, Elizabeth Pishief, Gregory Ramshaw, Philipp Schorch, Justin Sikora, Michelle Stefano, Gemma Tully, John Tunbridge.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-912-8
    Subjects: Archaeology
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgments (pp. x-x)
    Bryony Onciul, Michelle L. Stefano and Stephanie Hawke
  5. Introduction (pp. 1-8)
    Bryony Onciul

    Across the global networks of heritage sites, museums and galleries, the importance of communities to the interpretation and conservation of heritage is increasingly being recognised. Meaningful community engagement is noted as a worthy institutional goal and is a common requirement of funding bodies. Yet the very term ‘meaningful community engagement’ betrays a myriad of contrary approaches and understandings. Who is a community? How can they engage with heritage? Why would a community want to? How do communities and heritage professionals perceive one another? What does it mean to ‘engage’? These questions unsettle the very foundations of community engagement and indicate...

  6. Engaging Concepts
    • 1 The Gate in the Wall: Beyond Happiness-making in Museums (pp. 11-30)
      Bernadette Lynch

      I want to talk about generosity on the part of the cultural sector in its dealings with the public, and theproblemwith it. One has only to look to southern hemisphere voices – writers, playwrights, poets, academics – to hear a very different perspective on northern hemisphere generosity as demonstrated by its institutions – but, first, a small literary allegory.

      There are a number of moments in the Somalian author Nuruddin Farah’s wonderful bookGifts(Farah 2000) in which Duniya, a single mother and nurse working at the hospital in Mogadishu, has cause to question the generosity of others,...

    • 2 Assembling Communities: Curatorial Practices, Material Cultures and Meanings (pp. 31-46)
      Philipp Schorch

      Nations in the South Pacific face the dramatic dual pressures of local reinventions and global engagements over processes of political decolonisation (both external and internal), cultural revitalisation and economic development. However, we have a limited understanding of how cultural practices can embody these processes and illuminate the ways in which they are being negotiated. This chapter addresses this situation by laying the foundation for a documentation and analysis of the contribution of curatorial practices in museums to (re)negotiating identities, cultural revitalisation and economic development.

      The South Pacific region is strongly affected by global forces such as mass migration and media...

    • 3 Interview – John Tunbridge (pp. 47-50)
      John Tunbridge

      Could you say something about your career so far, focusing on community engagement with heritage?

      My research commitment to heritage began 40 years ago, when I realised that this then rather novel concept had important practical implications for differing valuations of places and was accordingly emerging as a very significant variable in geography, my home discipline. My first heritage publications concerned the geographical impact of conservation trusts, notably the British National Trusts, for which community engagement was implicitly at the national level – though in those days that meant primarily the white middle-class community. Before long, however, it became clear...

    • 4 Interview – Gregory Ashworth (pp. 51-54)
      Gregory Ashworth

      Please could you reflect on your career so far, focusing on your work in relation to how communities engage with heritage?

      I have a disciplinary background in Geography and a PhD in the geography of tourism from as early as 1974. From 1979 I taught urban geography at Groningen, where geography is closely linked to planning. While writing a book on the West European city (1980), I became aware of the extent of the preservation of monuments and the conservation of historic areas in cities, which at a simple level were disturbing the urban geography models and complicating utopian urban...

    • 5 Engaging with Māori and Archaeologists: Heritage Theory and Practice in Āotearoa New Zealand (pp. 55-72)
      Elizabeth Pishief

      Understanding what heritage means to community groups is an essential prerequisite for active, creative and successful engagement with them. Heritage is a cultural construct comprising different ideological and material phenomena for diverse groups of people, which means there are innumerable possible heritages, each shaped for the specific user group. However, although there may be an infinite variety of possible heritages, in New Zealand, for example, the dominant Western discourse controls the development of independent heritages. This chapter provides evidence of two different ‘heritages’ and identifies key principles about heritage. A view of heritage has emerged since 2011 that reflects the...

    • 6 Horizontality: Tactical Politics for Participation and Museums (pp. 73-88)
      Helen Graham

      This book is questioningly titled ‘Engaging Heritage, Engaging Communities’. Let us think about some of the everyday meanings of ‘engagement’ for a moment.¹ If a toilet is engaged, then it means someone is using it and you cannot; you must wait your turn. If you are engaged to be married, you cannot marry anyone else, and you wear a ring to show this exclusiveness to others. An engaged person is not open to others, or other romantic or sexual possibilities. To wantto engagesomeone or something is not, therefore, a neutral act; it is claiming something totally. It is...

  7. Engaging Creatively
    • 7 Re-imagining Egypt: Artefacts, Contemporary Art and Community Engagement in the Museum (pp. 91-106)
      Gemma Tully

      What does Egypt conjure up in your imagination? Powerful pharaohs, towering pyramids, arid deserts, modern revolutions? Egypt has experienced many different cultural influences stretching back over 300,000 years. All eras of Egypt’s past have helped shape the country today, yet the majority of the world is only familiar with one small part of the Egyptian story: the ‘Golden Age’ of the pharaohs. The exhibitionRe-imagining Egypt, held at Saffron Walden Museum in the UK between 26 November 2013 and 23 February 2014, aimed to challenge this narrow view. Community engagement was central to this process, as almost 100 local school-age...

    • 8 Interview – Evita Buša (pp. 107-112)
      Evita Buša

      Could you reflect on your career so far, focusing on your work on community engagement?

      Since I started to work in the museum field in 1996, when simultaneously finishing my Bachelor studies in Art History at the Art Academy of Latvia, I have been looking for answers about how contemporary art and art museums are relevant to peoples’ lives. Through the years as a professional my attention always was drawn to community-based art projects. After completing an MA degree in International Museum Studies at Gothenburg University in 2004 I moved to Puerto Rico, a small island very far from my...

    • 9 Interview – Shatha Abu Khafajah (pp. 113-118)
      Shatha Abu Khafajah

      Could you reflect on your career so far, focusing on your work on heritage?

      I work in the architecture department at the Hashemite University in Jordan. The department takes an interdisciplinary approach to architecture, and part of this approach is viewing material of the past, especially architecture, as a source of education, inspiration and creativity. Therefore, students, at their different learning stages, are strongly encouraged to critically examine and thoroughly analyse material of the past and use this analysis in their creations of new concepts, technologies and solutions in architectural design. This engagement qualifies material from the past to become...

    • 10 Engaging Communities of De-industrialisation: The Mapping Baybrook and Mill Stories Projects of Baltimore, USA (pp. 119-138)
      Michelle L. Stefano and Nicole King

      In newspapers and on television, and in museums and at heritage sites, the story of de-industrialisation in the USA is often represented through a simplistic historical lens: broad brushstrokes are used to paint the patterns of boom and bust with little interrogation of local-level, personal and shared experiences of it. This broad historical lens is rarely grounded in specific places, while simultaneously being connected to others with similar patterns of development and decline. Respecting and attempting to understand the people, places and intangible cultural heritage of industry’s rise and fall from the perspectives of those living these experiences is central....

    • 11 Interview – Ashley Minner (pp. 139-144)
      Ashley Minner

      Could you describe the role ‘heritage’ plays in your life?

      Well, let me start by saying that I have a strong sense of ‘where I’m from’ and ‘who I’m from’. I am a native Baltimorean – as in, I was born and raised just across the Baltimore City line, in a neighborhood of Dundalk that was once called the ‘Royal Homes’. I grew up on one side of the block; now I live on the other side of the same block. All of the houses began as identical Cape Cod-style concrete bungalows. They were built as temporary housing for soldiers...

  8. Engaging Challenges
    • 12 Embattled Legacies: Challenges in Community Engagement at Historic Battlefields in the UK (pp. 147-158)
      Justin Sikora

      When considering community engagement at historic battlefields, there are no clear-cut, easily definable parameters as to who or which entities could be considered the sole ‘community’ at this kind of heritage site. One of the key reasons for this is that many battlefields do not have easily defined boundaries, resulting in confusion not only over who is responsible for their care and management but also over who values unidentified, and sometimes misidentified, spaces. Compounded by the fact that these are often empty fields devoid of even cursory manifestations of memorialisation, one could conclude that these are forgotten sites buried under...

    • 13 At the Community Level: Intangible Cultural Heritage as Naturally-occurring Ecomuseums (pp. 159-178)
      Michelle L. Stefano

      ‘Intangible cultural heritage’, as defined by the 2003Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritageof the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), continues to gain traction as a concept within the international heritage discourse. Despite the fact that a decade has now passed since the enforcement of the 2003 Convention, the issue ofeffectivelysafeguarding intangible cultural heritage (hereafter ICH) remains an important topic of debate at international, national and regional levels.¹ Most importantly, there exists a framework for the safeguarding of ICH that continues to gain international acceptance: the set of guidelines and suggestions...

    • 14 Subaltern Sport Heritage (pp. 179-188)
      Gregory Ramshaw

      Conceptualisations of heritage have become complex in recent years. Though traditionally understood within conservationist paradigms and, therefore, primarily concerned with the preservation of objects, buildings and other tangible articles, heritage is now understood as more of a process whereby heritage is not the object itself but the wide range of values and interpretations that are ascribed to objects, rituals and traditions, to name but a few (Ashworth 2008; Smith 2006; Tunbridgeet al2013). The consequence of a process-based approach to heritage is that we may examine the uses of heritage and, in particular, how heritage can be tool in...

    • 15 Museums and the Symbolic Capital of Social Media Space (pp. 189-204)
      Julian Hartley

      It was Pierre Bourdieu who first showed us that it is unnatural to visit the museum when its symbols seem distant from our personal sense of place. He brought to light issues of exclusion that require museums to close the gap between themselves and a public distanced and disengaged by their position in social space (Bourdieu 1977; 1984; 1989). The influence of Bourdieu’s sociology, albeit updated and adapted, is traceable in the various approaches many museums adopt to overcome cultural barriers in their public perception and community engagement (Merriman 1991; Fyfe 2006; Prior 2005; Barrett 2011). However, an emerging body...

    • 16 Relational Systems and Ancient Futures: Co-creating a Digital Contact Network in Theory and Practice (pp. 205-226)
      Billie Lythberg, Carl Hogsden and Wayne Ngata

      This chapter explores the complex engagements navigated by heritage professionals and a self-defined and genealogically connected community working together under the auspices of two separately funded but related projects: ‘Artefacts of Encounter’, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and Arts and Humanities Research Council and based at the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA); and ‘Te Ataakura’, funded by the Māori Centre of Research Excellence Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga and based at the Eastern Institute of Technology, Aotearoa-New Zealand.¹ These brought together Toi Hauiti, the working arts group of Te Aitanga a Hauiti,...

    • 17 Interview – Conal McCarthy (pp. 227-230)
      Conal McCarthy

      Could you say something about your career so far, focusing on community engagement with heritage?

      I have worked in galleries and museums since the late 1980s, in a variety of roles including education, public programmes, exhibition development, collections and curatorial. From 1996 to 2000 I was a developer at Te Papa involved in education, public programmes and interpretation, including discovery centres for children and some temporary exhibitions such as theiwiexhibition with the Te Aupouri people of Northland. Since then I have moved into an academic position in museum and heritage studies, but our teaching and work placements mean...

  9. List of Contributors (pp. 231-236)
  10. Index (pp. 237-244)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 245-247)