A anthropological perspective on cultural heritage examines both the present and the past. For example, an ethnographic study conducted by Elizabeth Falconi in Oaxaca, Mexico, found that storytelling is an important cultural practice for the people living in San Juan Guelavia. The storytelling was often associated with male elders, who were understood to be transmitting knowledge to younger listeners. However, the study also found that many of the stories were insensitive and misleading.
Cultural heritage is a complex term, encompassing both the things and sites that constitute a society’s cultural history. It is best served by multidisciplinary approaches and methodologies that are relevant globally. Its scope is broad, encompassing the social sciences, the humanities, and environmental studies. It is also best served by acknowledging differences in order to legitimize conflicting interests and create solutions to resource management issues. As a result, anthropologists, museum professionals, and other professionals working on the topic have been looking for more accurate and meaningful ways to define the term.
The concept of cultural heritage emerged over time, when different values were associated with different cultural objects. In response to the systematic destruction of these cultural objects, phrases such as “outstanding universal value” and the declaration that these objects belong to humanity came to be applied. These ideas were derived from a growing understanding of how human societies and cultures interacted with the natural world. Moreover, the concept’s emergence relates to the idea of conservation.
UNESCO Santiago has defined heritage as being crucial to culture. It is a vehicle of knowledge transmission between generations. It can also foster creativity, innovation, and future cultural products. It enriches social capital and gives people a sense of identity and belonging. In this way, cultural heritage is an essential part of human civilization. If properly protected, cultural heritage is a valuable asset for all mankind. There is no doubt that heritage can help people of different cultures prosper.
Today, museums are thriving with new sources of funding. Casinos in the United States are contributing significant money to museums. In addition, the new museums are helping to foster local values through their mission to preserve cultural heritage. For example, the Fiji Airways company tried to trademark its designs of tapa cloth, but was unsuccessful. As a result, indigenous groups and local artists are urging lawmakers to protect their cultural expressions. These cultural expressions are essential for museums, who have a stake in preserving them.
Scholars are increasingly beginning to distinguish between official and unofficial heritage. In addition to the material aspects of heritage, the use of heritage can reveal underlying attitudes and assumptions that have shaped the past. Moreover, a distinction between official and unofficial heritage can make it easier to critically evaluate existing values of cultural heritage. So, let’s discuss some of the conceptual questions regarding cultural heritage. Consider the following:
The debate over the ownership of cultural heritage is a long-standing one, which inevitably involves tensions between public and private rights. Ancient Romans, for example, recognized the common value of privately owned works of art. They also recognized that statues adorning private buildings were protected from removal. Likewise, in the 21st century, the contemporary nation of Egypt is entitled to claim cultural property created by the ancient Egyptians, even if the ancient Egyptians had no interest in it.
In many cases, cultural heritage is not solely documentary. It may also include oral knowledge passed down by indigenous peoples. The debate over the ownership of cultural heritage also has a political dimension. While the UNESCO definition of cultural heritage is primarily documentary, it encompasses both oral and written memory. The term “cultural heritage” is also used to describe knowledge systems, including indigenous knowledge. If the past is preserved or recorded, we are bound by the values of that culture.
Many people see cultural heritage as a legacy left behind by humans. While cultural heritage is often thought of as a living expression of people’s lives, it is not easily separated from their rights. Indeed, cultural heritage has prompted complex legal cases that pose a judicial challenge to all stakeholders. As a result, there is a growing body of international law focusing on protecting cultural heritage. The broader cultural heritage debate raises many questions about its definition and ownership.
In some cases, cultural outsiders profit from the achievements of insiders. However, there are also countervailing factors that may make cultural appropriation less offensive. One example is the use of culturally sensitive words and images by a foreigner. But it is not the only example of cultural appropriation. The question is: is it wrong to use cultural assets without attribution? And can this practice be justified? The answer is not clear.