‘Counter-mapping’ heritage, communities and places in Australia and the UK

Harrison, Rodney (2011). ‘Counter-mapping’ heritage, communities and places in Australia and the UK. In: Schofield, John and Szymanski, Rosy eds. Local Heritage, Global Context: Cultural Perspectives on Sense of Place. Heritage, Culture and Identity. Ashgate, pp. 79–98.

URL: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=637&calcT...


Most people will be familiar with the experience of returning to a place known and loved from one’s past, only to find it altered, removed or demolished. The feelings of loss which such an experience can engender are one poignant reminder of the non-tangible or social attachments which we form to place, or what geographer Yi-Fu Tuan (1977) and others (e.g. Feld and Basso 1996) have referred to as a ‘sense of place’. The social values of place, both at an individual and collective level, have become an important new area of research in the field of archaeological and cultural heritage management in Australia. This chapter summarises recent and emerging approaches to understanding and managing the social values of place in Australia and reflects on their implications for interventions in heritage practices in the UK. To do this, I will first provide a quick summary of the Australian heritage system, before considering some background issues which have foregrounded ‘sense of place’ in Australian environmental and heritage planning. I will look at some case studies developed to record social values of place from New South Wales where I was previously employed in the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Cultural Heritage Research Unit (now Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water), focussing on the new techniques we developed to ‘map attachment’ and social values. Drawing particularly on case studies in Indigenous cultural heritage management from New South Wales, I will outline the ways in which archaeologists are increasingly engaged in a consideration of both the tangible and intangible values of heritage sites, and discuss some of the tools which have been developed to record and 'map' intangible values and attachment to place in contemporary Indigenous, migrant and settler Australian communities. Much of this work has taken the form of mapping and recording alternate, ‘hidden’ or non-mainstream social geographies, and in the final part of the chapter, I comment on the role of such ‘counter-mapping’ in giving voice to politically marginal and subaltern understandings of the past and present and consider an example of the use of such practices in the UK.

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