Introducing Heritage for Development: Practising the Past in the Pursuit of 'Progress'

Cross, Charlotte and Giblin, John D. (2023). Introducing Heritage for Development: Practising the Past in the Pursuit of 'Progress'. In: Cross, Charlotte and Giblin, John D. eds. Critical Approaches to Heritage for Development. Rethinking Development. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1–33.



This introductory chapter outlines the different ways in which heritage is used for development and what is driving this practice, including: the potential economic value to be derived from heritage; the growing importance of conceptualisations of development in terms of well-being and sustainability; critiques of ‘top-down’ development and the increasing emphasis on participatory and community-based approaches; securitisation of development and the pursuit of soft power; and challenge-led heritage. It then explores key critiques of dominant and formalised notions of development, heritage, and heritage for development. In so doing, the chapter outlines how established critical perspectives, which understand both heritage and development as political and contested practices, are often sidelined when it comes to heritage being instrumentalised for development. Particular attention is paid to the Enlightenment, colonial and ultimately Western roots of the dominant discourses of heritage and development, and thus heritage for development, and the ways in which contemporary attempts to foster heritage and development in the so-called Global South can serve to reproduce and perpetuate colonial power relations. Rather than reject a role for heritage in development, however, the chapter calls for greater understanding of heritage and development as closely related, contested, and political, cultural-production processes, and for exploration of how heritage for development is articulated and practised outside of formalised and often Western-led frameworks, and the resultant potentials and problems alike.

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