Accepted paper:

Practicing the past in pursuit of 'progress' and peace


John Giblin (National Museums Scotland)
Charlotte Cross (The Open University )

Paper short abstract:

This introductory paper will outline issues for the employment of ostensibly past looking research as heritage in development today. With a focus on the perceived role of heritage in post-conflict development, the paper will outline some of the contradictions in uncritical approaches.

Paper long abstract:

Since the 1990s, the importance of culturally informed approaches to international development has been recognised. More recently, this recognition has been articulated as a need to engage with ideas of heritage as an ostensibly past looking practice on which current and future development may be more appropriately built. In addition, in the UK, heritage approaches to development continue to be promoted through government supported research opportunities such as the Global Challenges Research Fund. In parallel, international heritage organisations, most notably UNESCO, have explicitly sought to align heritage practices with developmental agendas, while heritage researchers have continued to identify heritage as being relevant for development. However, rarely do these two sets of agencies and actors come together to explore each other's differing agendas, challenges, and potentials and instead they risk talking past each other from their different intellectual positions. In response, this introductory paper will outline some of these issues and with a focus on the role of heritage in post-conflict development will provide examples of some of the contradictions inherent in uncritical approaches.

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History and development: practicing the past in pursuit of 'progress'