Heritage as Performance

  • Michael Haldrup
  • Jørgen Ole Bœrenholdt


Studies of heritage have often emphasized the representational side of cultural heritage. Attention has been focused on the symbolic functions of heritage as a repository for the cultural memory of societies, thus emphasizing the role heritage plays, for example, in relation to national history and identity and the close relations between the development of national heritage and similar national developments within literature, history, art and architecture (Urry, 1996; Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, 1998). In a European context, heritage has traditionally been bound up with the conservation of an (imagined) past, hence potentially excluding marginalized experiences and interests from the past it represents. Often the studies of such marginalized examples of heritage have drawn heavily on postcolonial and discursive approaches in order to contest and unpack the power structures at work in producing and performing the ‘authorized heritage discourse’ with its focus on heritage relics as aesthetically pleasing objects valued for their (national) symbolic significance (Smith, 2006, pp. 29–35, 212–29). In contrast, this chapter suggests another approach to heritage. Instead of focusing on the symbolic dimensions of objects and discourses, our approach argues that, as Smith herself makes clear, there is no such thing as heritage (2006, pp. 13–14, 2011, p. 69). In contrast to heritage-as-things, we approach heritage-as-performance, emerging out of the social practices and uses to which people put it.


Popular Culture Heritage Site Cultural Geography Tourist Study Heritage Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Michael Haldrup and Jørgen Ole Bœrenholdt 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Haldrup
  • Jørgen Ole Bœrenholdt

There are no affiliations available

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