Conflicted Heritage: Values, Visions and Practices in the Management and Preservation of Cultural and Environmental Heritage

Geoffrey Kearsley, Martine Middleton

Abstract

Cultural heritage has become of great importance in a number of areas, including self-identity, community identity and as an economic sector through cultural tourism. Most definitions of heritage now accept that it is a perceptual construct with many meanings, both for those who identify and manage it and for those who consume it in various ways. Because heritage can be seen in many lights, the potential for conflict between users, managers and those who own heritage is high.

This article examines the nature of heritage and heritage landscapes and discusses the many symbolic and economic benefits that can ensue; the changing nature of the markets for heritage is described. The various monetary and opportunity costs of heritage are discussed and the resultant conflicts outlined. The article goes on to examine the contradictions and conflicts inherent in the concept of authenticity and the issues involved in various modes of interpretation. Here the article asks that if heritage is accepted as that which ‘we’ wish to preserve, then who are ‘we’?

This question is explored in the context of the impacts of tourism upon heritage in Southern New Zealand, including the impacts of recent development, perceptions of crowding and the nature of wilderness. Inter-cultural perceptions are explained through the differing perceptions of, and attitudes to, the natural world held by Maori and by others.

The article concludes by noting that, while much heritage research is still based upon the product and its presentation, future studies will need to learn more on consumers, their attitudes , expectations and values.

Keywords

Heritage; Conflict; Tourism; Management; Perception

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