Heritage as design (continued)

Felipe Criado Boado (CSIC, the Spanish National Research Council and INCIPIT, the Institute of Heritage Sciences in Santiago de Compostela) is with us in the Archaeology Center for a couple of weeks.

This evening he lectured about the way his new institute is approaching heritage.

Heritage – the footprint of memory and oblivion – a metacultural process that accords value to things, places, experiences.

INCIPIT has been set up to research this process of establishing and transferring value – to find out how it works.

What makes this such a fascinating and powerful prospect is that INCIPIT is making a claim to be object-oriented, to stretch somewhat that term as it applies to software design. What I mean is that the research methodology is not taken directly from a disciplinary field such as sociology or economics, investigating, foe example, the relationship of heritage to class and demography, or analyzing the economic value of heritage sites in tourism. Instead, INCIPIT is setting out to bring together researchers, students and communities in collaborative application to actual cases of the (co-)construction of heritage “objects” – knowledges, experiences, sites, artifacts. Instead of research tasks and procedures that have their immediate origin in disciplinary methodology, INCIPIT is focused on heritage objects – practices, relationships, artifacts, representations – that collectively structure this transdisciplinary field. Practice as research [Link].

Heritage research is here being treated as a design process, the production of the past-in-the-present, in the way I have been describing such process in this blog [Link]. Involved is a distinctive turn away from heritage as cultural property, with attendant issues of access, ownership and stewardship, and toward heritage as dynamic and creative process that brings together quite diverse interests. Foregrounded is the need to understand just how people agree and differ in the production of heritage experiences – matters of representation, negotiation, and the translation of different interests [Link].

The pragmatics at the heart of design thinking, drawing upon ethnography and interpretive science [Link], is the means to pursue this end.

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