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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  October 2017  /  Heritage is not History

Heritage is not History

David Lowenthal gives first Annual Lecture of UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies

Heritage is not History

Hugh Clout writes:

On 2nd October, David Lowenthal (Professor Emeritus, UCL Geography) delivered the First Annual Lecture of the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.

Addressing a full house, he drew on his long experience of studying heritage and conservation to present a series of challenging ideas.

David insisted that “Heritage is not History: History is what people make of their history to make themselves feel good”.

He showed how individual nations and tribes imagine their own heritage, contrasting this with the conception recently promoted by international organizations that, “Heritage must be universal, for the good of all”. The work of UNESCO was contrasted with the activities of national and local purveyors of “heritage”.

As a master of memory and experience, David drew examples from every continent, relating them to many moments in the recent and not so recent past.

His stimulating talk concluded by examining clashes of responsibility, and the possible solutions, for maintaining sacred sites in Jerusalem including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


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David Lowenthal


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