‘History is what happened, Heritage is what it means to us, how we remember, the mark it made, the stories we tell.’
‘Heritage happens now, History happened in the past. Which is why heritage is so political.’
The first of the quotes above is my answer to the question ‘what is ‘heritage?’, the second is from one of Scotland’s best interpreters, who I would love to acknowledge by name, but we were drinking and chatting and I think he was off record.
So what is heritage? Great question. My thanks to Nicole Deufel for raising it in yet another of those fascinating conversations that we heritage interpreters have. Nicole’s blog is a great place to go for thoughtful, in-depth consideration of this and other topics.
We all are saying essentially the same thing and it’s an interesting and, I think, liberating thing. That ‘heritage’ is not fixed; it is living, changing, twisting, and individual.
My heritage tells you, and me, something of who I am. If you show me yours and I show you mine we may learn something about a bigger human picture.
Heritage is a story, a vision, a construct, a part of who we are, our mooring rope, our shackle and chains, our springboard, our foundation.
Heritage can be manoeuvred and manipulated, deliberately or unconsciously, to suit our, and other’s, ends. Heritage can be accepted or rejected.
Heritage is exciting stuff to work with. It is creative and calls on creatives to do it justice. It is personal: exploring it requires people who can question, listen and converse, not just tell.
Heritage is in part fiction; it comes from where our hopes and fears, doubts and dreams, values and visions meet what we know of history. It is a shoreline, an interface, a story.
All pictures thanks to Peter Phillipson. For more go to Peter’s Flickr stream. Follow Peter @ TellTalePeter on Twitter.