Valorising Cornish Minority Heritage: UNESCO and Performative Heritage

Buchanan, Joan (2002) Valorising Cornish Minority Heritage: UNESCO and Performative Heritage. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
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This study seeks to enhance our understanding of the complexities of heritage and the place of minority narratives within this process, thus creating a dialogue for cultural diversity in heritage management practice. The study is framed around two research questions: What are the factors, tensions and power-relations that contribute to how heritage is valorised in the case study of Cornwall? How might events like the Man Engine (2016) be understood as heritage practice that bridges the tensions of official and unofficial heritage? In order to answer the research questions a tripartite approach is undertaken, first studying official processes including Cornwall’s designation as a World Heritage Site (2006) and the Cornish as a National Minority (2014). Unofficial or alternative forms of heritage that take an everyday, embodied form is then examined. Finally, heritage making that bridges these two processes is explored - the Man Engine Pilgrimage a popular performative heritage which made a pilgrimage across the landscape visiting old mining sites as an act of community remembrance, spatial identity and celebration. This research found several factors contributed to how heritage was valorised and depended on who the stakeholders were and their motivations. Both affected what was seen as heritage (the narrative) and how those messages were communicated (forms of mediation). All factors thus had impacts on how heritage was perceived and valorised. The study concludes that heritage in Cornwall is defined and ‘valorised’ in different ways, giving rise to diverse social, cultural, political and economic meanings and signification, depending on the perspectives within official and unofficial processes. There are however crossovers between what and who is doing this valuing. In addition, valorisation complexities lead to tensions and barriers over who is effectively involved. The research argues that the Man Engine traversed some of these barriers and in this sense was a bridging process between official and unofficial heritage. It offers a model of practice, an inclusive vehicle for expression of authorised discourses but also grassroots sociocultural values, and called attention to ways that heritage is used and celebrated through both formal and informal processes and practices. The study illustrates how institutions can build in ‘from-below’ practices, create conditions for co-production and recognise a plurality of values. The study makes a theoretical contribution to knowledge and extends the boundaries of research methods within the field of critical heritage studies. It draws on both critical and performance theories to illuminate how processes of ‘valorisation’ operate. The study observed affective dimensions and these were found to be important trajectories of how heritage becomes valorised. This adds to a growing body of research that understands that heritage valorisation is about representation and affect. This transdisciplinary approach, bridging theory and practice, offers a way to view multivocality in valorisation and promotes democratisation of heritage as active production and recognition of voices that have been marginalised or omitted.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: World Heritage, Democratisation of culture, public culture, Diversity, inclusion and heritage, Cultural policy /politics of heritage, Intangible cultural heritage
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
N800 Tourism, Transport and Travel
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2022 09:27
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2022 09:30

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