IHBC CPD boost: Conservation Wiki on alternative futures for heritage

personHeritage management and conservation rarely consider how different ways of assembling, curating, caring for, and designing the future relate to one another. How could this be done? Conservation Wiki writes about a research programme, some alternative perspectives and implications.

Conservation Wiki writes:

What do museums and archives, historic buildings preservation, rewilding initiatives, botanic gardens and space messaging (addressing an audience far in the future) have in common? These fields share a desire to preserve ‘things’ (buildings, objects, places, monuments, species, knowledge) that are valued, yet are considered at risk of endangerment from loss, destruction, or decay. Practices of listing on heritage registers, or designation to protected status, articulate the view that potential or real threats must be mitigated, usually through some form of active intervention to protect. While taken for granted, this endangerment approach is increasingly being questioned by academic researchers (such as Harrison 2013, Rico 2015, Vidal and Dias 2016, and DeSilvey 2017).

Could heritage management and conservation be practiced differently if uncoupled from the ideas of risk and endangerment? If heritage preservation is future-oriented – in that heritage practitioners work to protect the past for the future – what future, or futures, is it working towards, and is each the same across different kinds of preservation practices? How do we choose what to save for posterity? Questions such as these deserve far greater attention than is ordinarily given in scholarship or practice.

Further information on the research programme, alternative perspectives and implications.

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