Wrapping up the course

Congratulations for completing this course! It is now time to recap some of the key lessons we have learned over the past three weeks.

Cultural heritage is central to how we identify cities. When thinking about cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Mumbai, or Sydney, people usually think about a few symbols like the Carnival of Rio, the Eiffel Tower, Bollywood, or the Sydney Opera that epitomize their cities, and beyond, their nation.

In this course, we went beyond the myths surrounding the artefacts, the monuments, and the ceremonies that constitute cultural heritage. We tried to understand the concrete conditions through which heritage is produced, constructed, and exploited.

Cities now host more than half of the global populations and have become key actors in global issues. Through their cultural heritage, they can project themselves to the world. But the way cities relate to their heritage can vary greatly: some become “museum cities” while others let bulldozers destroy millenary monuments.

In week 1, we discussed the issue of the definition of cultural heritage. You learned about the different categories of heritage that are used in the field. But we also stressed the subjective nature of this concept and its malleability depending on different cultural contexts. In the context of globalisation and urbanisation, cultural heritage has become increasingly important.

During this first week, you were able discuss the definitions of cultural heritage and clarify the different conceptual categories that are commonly used in the heritage sector. You have acquired a better understanding about the emergence of heritage as field of studies and as an area of public policy. You also discussed what cultural heritage brings to cities.

In week 2, we dived into the governance of heritage, from the international and national levels to the local level from public institutions and to self-organized citizens. You should now better understand the complex power dynamics and tensions that surround the definition, protection, promotion, and management of heritage. You should also have a better knowledge of the policy instruments that give life to cultural heritage, from the UNESCO World Heritage list to rehabilitation projects.

During this second week, you acquired the capacity to analyse the governance dynamics of heritage projects. You compared the governance of heritage in different countries. You also had the opportunity to propose evaluation methods and debate the effects that evaluation can have on the governance of heritage.

In week 3, you saw how functional components of cities like train stations could become recognized as heritage. But we also experienced the difficulties of protecting and promoting heritage in cities. We showed how the needs of urban development constrained the work of archaeologists, but could also accelerate the process of heritagization. You observed how citizens could mobilize in order to protect their heritage and raise awareness for the need for its preservation.

This last week enabled you to explain the different types of tensions between urban development and cultural heritage. You also debated how and under which conditions cities can use events to promote their heritage.

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We would love to know your opinion about the course. But also how you have experienced it, to help us improve further editions. Did it open new perspectives for you from a personal or a professional point of view? Did you feel we should have tackled other issues, mentioned other examples? Click here to fill our end-of course survey.

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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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