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Welcome to the course

Cultural heritage is usually conceived in national or religious terms: we speak of Italian culture, Greek civilization, Egyptian heritage, Islamic art, and so on. Today, however, large urban centres emerge as hubs of heritage creation and consumption. Cities brand their own cultural heritage as hubs of artistic creation through museums, galleries, markets of artistic goods, and urban-to-urban networks. They also develop their own policies and brand their cultural institutions. Cities may project themselves as cultural hubs representing and connecting a whole world region (e.g. Doha and the Arab world, Singapore and southeast Asia, Los Angeles and North America, or Barcelona and Europe, to name only a few examples.

In this course we shall first introduce the notion of heritage and explain what is considered cultural heritage today – not just old buildings and archaeological sites but also different artistic activities. We shall discuss the goals of cultural policies and the role of different actors in preserving and ‘exploiting’ heritage. We shall introduce the notion of multi-level governance with a special focus on tools and strategies for governing heritage. We shall thus locate cities as a special type of actors – ‘owners’ of their own heritage – but situated in a multi-level field between international organisations like UNESCO and national actors like Ministries of Culture, as well as practitioners – artists, curators, consumers of heritage.

The course will discuss how heritage can become a lever for growth, how it contributes to processes of socio economic transformation. We will focus on the role of local authorities, civil society actors and artists/curators. Specific examples highlighted include Carthage in Tunisia, Berlin in Germany, Istanbul in Turkey. We also discuss the role of special events located in cities such as Olympic Games or programmes such as the European Capitals of Culture in valorising the heritage of a city.

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Interact with your peers

This course will offer you plenty of occasion to interact with your peers.

  • You can post comments to share your thoughts and opinions and we invite you to do so as often as possible, in the comment section of each step.

  • We have dedicated discussion steps.

  • Next week, you will also have a peer review task. You will receive feedback from fellow learners and you will be invited in reviewing other learners’ writings.

Why not start right now and introduce yourself: Let us know who you are and why you are interested in cities and cultural heritage!

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This article is from the free online course:

Cultural Heritage and the City

European University Institute (EUI)

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