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Defining heritage governance

What is governance? What is heritage governance and how is it different from heritage policies?
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Hello, everybody. Welcome to our lesson on heritage governance. Let’s start by defining governance. Governance typically involves cooperation, negotiation, and regulation. Unlike government, governance does not have a clear democratic legitimacy nor polity to which it refers, as its contours usually trespass those of the state. That said, governance has a strong efficiency legitimacy as it contributes to developing satisfactory solutions to complex problems. It is also seen as a better fit to contemporary societies as it enables actors, like companies or civil society, who are more quick to act and have more timely information to make up for the lacunae of state action that involve longer times for response and less flexibility.
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The term governance designates the interaction and networking between public and private actors, both in horizontal, nonhierarchical, and vertical, hierarchical ways. So what is heritage governance and how is it different from heritage policies? Remember, in week one we have learned that cultural heritage policies are those public policies supporting cultural heritage, and involve five different types of actors. National authorities, such as cultural ministries and their different branches, civil society actors, cultural associations and foundations, international organisations, whose aim it is to preserve and promote heritage such as UNESCO, professionals, experts working in the field of heritage restoration and preservation, private companies, such as publishers and art galleries.
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Nowadays, international organisations are increasingly important, and often specific cultural heritage institutions like museums or foundations, or even city authorities, may interact directly with international experts and cultural heritage institutions and networks, bypassing national authorities. Meaning, for example, the ministries. As a matter of fact, heritage governance is about the relationships and interactions among these actors who discuss and negotiate with no top down approach. Heritage governance is about a horizontal and multi-level character of heritage activities.

Welcome back! This is the second week of our course on Cultural heritage and the City!

Last week, we explained and discussed how cultural heritage is defined and the existing categories. We also talked about cultural heritage policies and mentioned some actors involved in their elaboration. This week, we will more precisely identify the key actors of cultural heritage governance. We will not only look at state actors, but also at the local and international scale. We will not restrain ourselves to the mere heritage sector. We will show that other policy sectors such as transportation and tourism can play a central role in heritage governance.

Heritage governance can vary widely depending on the institutional and socio-economic contexts. This week you will learn to compare the governance of heritage in different cities or countries.

Finally, we will also see how we can evaluate the impacts of cultural heritage projects on cities. We will talk about the economic benefits of heritage for cities, but also about how we can go beyond the mere economic impact and analyse how heritage can be appropriated by local actors, generating collaborations between different urban policy sectors.

Let us start by defining heritage governance!

Governance typically involves cooperation, negotiation and regulation. Watch this video, and you will learn the difference between governance and government.

We explain why the notion of heritage governance is useful to better grasp the complexity of the regulation and management of heritage. Heritage governance is about the relationships and interactions among different types of actors who discuss and negotiate.

Share your opinion:

Who do you think is the most legitimate actor to govern cultural heritage? The state? The city? Private companies? NGOs?

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Cultural Heritage and the City

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