Heritage – A Conceptually Evolving and Dissonant Phenomenon: Implications for Heritage Management and Education Practices in Post-colonial Southern Africa
This conceptual paper is based on experiences and insights which have emerged from my quest to develop a conceptual framework for working with the term ‘heritage’ within an education for sustainable development study that I am currently conducting. Of specific interest to me, and having potential to improve the relevance and quality of heritage education in southern Africa, given the region’s inherent cultural diversity and colonial history, is the need for ‘heritage construct inclusivity’ within the processes constituting heritage education practices. Working around this broad research goal, I therefore needed to be clear about what I mean or refer to as heritage. I realised, however, how elusive and conceptually problematic the term ‘heritage’ is. I therefore, drawing from literature and experiences gained during field observations and focus group interviews, came up with the idea of working with three viewpoints of heritage. Drawing on real life cases I argue that current heritage management and education practices’ failure to recognise and respect the evolving, interconnectedness and multi layered nature of heritage, partly explain the same practices’ lack of relevance and agency to enhance the sustainable management of local heritage resources. I also suggest a few ideas which heritage educators in the context of post-colonial southern Africa may need to consider in their everyday heritage education practices. I also introduce the notion of conceptualising heritage as ‘cultural landscapes’, within which the evolving, dissonant and interconnected nature of heritage, and associated heritage constructs, may be reconciled.
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