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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds What I want to do now is to look at some of them in a little bit more detail, some of the complex types and ranges of performances that visitors engaging. To do this, I want to walk you through just one visitor, because she does a lot of performances. So when a visitor is coming to a heritage site, they made one performance of reinforcement, but they also may be engaged in almost all of the performances. There can be a complex response from visitors. So this is one of those very complicated responses, but it illustrates five performances I’ve identified.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds This woman she is visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis Tennessee in the United States. The Civil Rights Museum is in the Lorraine Hotel, which was the site Martin Luther King was assassinated in the nineteen sixties. He, of course, was a major civil rights leader in the United States. The speaker is a woman. She is a postal worker. She’s a union president for the postal service in Chicago, the town that she comes from in the United States. And she described self identified herself as black American, and she is visiting with her twelve year old son. And I asked the question, are there any messages about the heritage or history of America that you take away from this museum?

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds And she responds, “It really is, just the history of it is so, you know, […]. And me being a union president”. Remember I said she was a member of the union “Being at the museum puts me on focus”. It makes me think about those things. “ And being a parent, a parent of young kids and a young parent, it just puts me on focus again, focusing on these issues.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second Put me on focus as to my kids. When I first brought my youngest son here, he’ll be thirteen next month”. As I said, she was visiting with her then twelve year old son. “When I first brought my youngest son here, and we walked through [where] the Ku Klux Klan clothes were”, I’ll assume you know the Ku Klux Kla were a crisis reactionary group in the United States that were outlawed during the sixties, seventies. Very unpleasant. Murdering that they’ve reached a lot of African American people.

Skip to 2 minutes and 36 seconds So when we walked through [where] the Ku Klux Klan clothes were, he was about four and when we came through the museum, my first thought was, ‘what are white people doing in their heads because they know what they did to us?’ So she said what are these white people doing in this museum about black history? I mean just honestly and I’m looking around because I’m astonished at that. She’s astonished that these white people there. And then when my son walked upon the Ku Klux Klan, he said out loud, as kids do, ‘Momma, who pyjamas are those?’ And everybody turned and looked at me.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds That is all the white people turned and looked at her and they’re waiting for her respond to her son. And she says, ‘Those aren’t pyjamas. I’ll tell you about them’. And you know, the whites there waiting for me to answer. And we keep going. And I like reading this stuff to my son and saying, ‘And this is what they do, this is why people did to black people and this is what. ‘

Skip to 3 minutes and 30 seconds And he bust out again, ‘Who is black, mama?’ And I said, ‘Oh my god’, and I looked at him, and you know I saw this white guy watching and I’m like ‘You are black’. And he was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m not black, I’m yellow.’

Skip to 3 minutes and 44 seconds And I said, (Just as kids doing.) ‘Okay’, and I remember what my pastor said: ‘You don’t know you’re poor until you’re told you’re poor. You don’t know you’re black until you’re told you’re black.’ He never knew he was black. So, when I bring him here he learns more, and we come every year because I have family down here. So they come every year to the museum. Now, as I said, this speaker touches on a range of issues also raised by other speakers. I’m using here as an example. The first performance she’s engaged in is that she is using the museum to remember and commemorate her own experiences in the civil rights movement.

Skip to 4 minutes and 19 seconds She put herself on focus about the social values as a union member. And with this remembering comes a reinforcement of her values as a union activist of social values. And this is a former progressive self conscious reinforced horseman, which was, as I said, particularly strong at museums of labor, immigration, civil rights, and an insider thoughts. These sites were exhibitions that were seen to represent consensus national narratives. What was remembered was often less personal, but no less strongly held emotional commitments to master narratives of nation and citizenship.

Skip to 4 minutes and 58 seconds And these narratives were frequently reinforced, even in contexts where the curatorial or interpreted message aimed to destabilize and challenge those narratives. And I’ll come back to that point, but go back to the speaker. This is her and her youngest son’s fourth visit to the museum. And she’s using this previous visits to pass on family history and social values to her son.

Skip to 5 minutes and 29 seconds So this in a very real sense, the museum is being used as of a mean of socialization.

Skip to 5 minutes and 36 seconds So heritage here is being used as a cultural tool in passing on family memory, family knowledge, and values. Now, in some instances, the performance of visiting and where you visited with something that parents taught their children. For instance, visiting Presidential Houses in the United States or Stately Homes in England and Australia was something that people from middle class backgrounds and white backgrounds did and were engaged on passing on to their children. You are white English middle class, so you visit Stately Homes, that’s what you do. So its a performance, regardless of what may mean. It’s a performance of identifying yourself as a particular member of particular social class. And many of those sites that I’ve surveyed.

Skip to 6 minutes and 27 seconds There was also people from recent immigrants to those countries who also use those sites as a culture of themselves, if you like, to the new national identity.

Heritage Performance - inter-generational communication and social values

In this video, you will know the heritage performance of inter-generational communication and social values delivering when they visit heritage sites.

What do you think heritage sites do to deliver social value?

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Culture and Tourism

Nankai University