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Heritage studies and cultural heritage policies

How do we relate with our past? How do we preserve our past?
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Hello, everybody. Let’s ask ourselves, how do we relate with our past? How do we preserve our past? These questions were posed already in the 18th and 19th century as nation states were formed, but assumed a particular urgency in the post World War II period at a time when rapid change and increased belief in scientific knowledge and progress, together with enhanced independence from tradition, hierarchy, and ingrained beliefs, impelled societies to define their past and classify its objects and practises, both at the national and international level. It’s at that time in the second half of the 20th century that heritage emerges as an area of study and of policy regulation.
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Now, let’s have a look at some of the phenomena that have characterised the last 50 to 70 years, and that are directly related to the emergence of heritage as a subject of study and as a policy area. The growth of new information and communication technologies. The ways in which new technologies change patterns and trends of production and consumption of goods and services. The new forms of flexible capital accumulation and distribution. The widespread experience of mass migration, and the increased transnational flows of goods, services capitals and people. The increased time available for leisure activities.
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The acceleration of time and the pace of socioeconomic change of the late 20th and early 21st century has led to a need for protecting our past, our heritage, from loss and decay, and cultural heritage studies and policies assume precisely the role of discovering, classifying, ordering, protecting, preserving, and even promoting all that belongs to the past, our heritage.
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Cultural heritage policies are part of the wider area of cultural policy, and involve a range of activities of support, preservation, promotion, or consumption in relation to the arts– visual arts such as painting or sculpture, performing arts such as music, dance, theatre, the humanities such as creative writing or poetry, institutions such as museums, libraries, or archives, natural landscape sites, botanical gardens, aquariums, zoos, fairs and festivals, folklore activities such as folk dancing and music, crafts, even rodeo or circus performances. Policies and cultural heritage were initially conceived as referring only to activities and objects of the past. Nowadays instead, cultural heritage policies also refer to activities and objects developed in the present.
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That’s why we speak of contemporary heritage, or living heritage, and related policies.
How do we relate with our past? How do we preserve our past?
Cultural heritage studies and policies assume the role of discovering, classifying, ordering, protecting, preserving, and even promoting all that belongs to the past. Watch this video to learn how heritage emerges as an area of study and policy regulation along with the great socio-economic transformations that took place from the second half of the 20th century onwards.
You will see that nowadays, cultural heritage policies not only refer to activities and objects of the past, but also of those developed in the present.
Share your own experience! How do public authorities relate to cultural heritage in the country where you live? Do they focus more on the past or do they also recognize and support contemporary culture?
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Cultural Heritage and the City

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