The Concepts of Culture and Heritage (Dissertation Sample)
1 Cultural heritage
Culture and heritage are two separate concepts. Together, they help people understand shared human history that provides a sense of belonging to a community in the present and are used to define significant attributes bestowed to future generations (Czepczyński, 2008). The study of culture and heritage has received a great deal of attention in the social sciences because these terms are considered vital parts of what societies are, what they do and what they might become in the future. However, scholars and stakeholders have struggled to identify which specific cultural heritage attributes are important to people’s lives in the changing modern world (Spearritt, 2011). Thus, understanding cultural heritage can be considered central to the global community today because it frames the meaning people assign to the material and nonmaterial culture that links generations from the past, the present and the future (Miles and Kirkham, 2003).
Article 2 of the UNESCO (2003) Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage expands the term ‘cultural heritage’ by specifying that it: … does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
This definition encompasses the material and non-material manifestations of culture that 17 different communities in the world have inherited from ancestors and would like to transmit to the future generations since they have been beneficial to the current generation in terms of knowledge and skills (UNESCO, 2003). From this perspective, Ahmad (2006) observes that the notion of cultural heritage represents the tangible cultural expression used by individuals and groups in a society as a means of conveying significant intangible culture across time and space. Even though the term cultural heritage is used by communities to describe their origins and history, some aspects of cultural heritage are viewed as more important than others (Graham and Howard, 2008). As explained in detail by Ashworth et al. (2007), this occurs because not everything from the past is considered cultural heritage and stakeholders select heritage resources based on the value and significant meaning placed upon them. In order to distinguish between tangible and intangible cultural heritage, this thesis refers to tangible cultural heritage as cultural built heritage and focuses on immovable and not movable property.
For the purposes of the present bibliography, the definition used in the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro, 2006) has been applied: [Cultural] heritage is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time.
However, in the context of the analysis of the value of cultural heritage, many authors complement this definition with a notion of heritage sector constituted by specialised activities involving heritage and related to other social or economic sectors. Consequently, two strands of analysis can be observed in the reviewed studies: a) cultural heritage as a sector of activities on its own, which provides jobs and generates growth (direct impact, mainly economic but which can include other dimensions of development as well); b) spill-over social and economic effects of cultural heritage in other fields, such as agriculture, regional development, environment, science and education, tourism, technology, innovation, social cohesion, intercultural dialogue, etc.
Heritage sector is sometimes considered a part of cultural (or creative) industries. In such cases, the analysis is not limited to the issues of heritage protection but stresses also the creative potential of heritage, including its spill-over effects in other creative sectors.
2 Religious Assets
Before making any assumption and policy for the protection of religious assets, it is important to understand the comprehensive definition of religious assets. It is basically coherent in nature and requires comprehensive definition. The religious assets are basically classified into two broad categories named as tangible and intangible. The intangibility is described in the terms of religious cultural heritage in form of ceremonial traditions and the freedom to perform religious actions on the basis of beliefs and rituals (Semplonius et al., 2015). While, intangible assets demonstrate the archaeological sites, buildings, art work, land scape and other physical assets which represent the cultural and historical value for the individuals belonged to a specific (Tsivolas, 2019). These assets play an important role to refresh the values and beliefs of people and also become a source of guideline in the matters of life. Preservation and protection of religious culture is considered very important to provide orientation and strengthen the beliefs of future generation. Therefore, significance of religious assets is very important due to its symbolic value for all the aspects of social and spiritual life. Moreover, these assets are not just important to demonstrate religious importance but also provide valuable knowledge about human efforts and significance of nature related events. The strong beliefs are associated with the religion which couldn’t be changed or altered with passage of time (Fornerod, 2015). Sustainability in the religious values is deemed necessary that is strongly associated with protection and familiarity with religious assets. In every state, the society is composed of citizens belonged to several religions. However, these communities are categorized in majority and minority on the basis of state dimensions. Proper rules and regulations are developed by the state authorities in all over the world in order to provide religious freedom to all the groups on equality basis. To ensure equality, the most important thing is protection of religious values, culture and physical assets. In this regard, governmental organizations play a very critical role in order to protect religion in all countries (Tsivolas, 2017)
International framework provides a complete guideline with established rules and regulations in order to ensure religious freedom at all places. In this regard, protection of religious assets is main concern. Because these rules and regulations are very important to permute peace and safety at global level. Worship houses are considered most important religious assets as these places have central position in every religion to manifest the beliefs and traditions for the individuals. Moreover, the international holy days for different religious communities in all countries have significant role to provide protection and confidence for minority group in a country (Tsivolas, 2019).
3 Protection of cultural heritage
At global level, a comprehensive frame of regulations and case laws have been developed to protect the cultural heritage and religious assets. Because this protection is very important for all the religions to ensure historical significance and values of antecedents related to different cultures. Because, historical values demonstrate a strong connection with past great events and especially art work that is considered an important way to develop relationship with previous generation. Different countries have different approaches on the basis of particular aspects to protect cultural heritage (Barrère, 2016). These approaches developed by every country are based on different dimensions related regional authorities, political priorities, perceptions, ideologies and past values. According to the international laws related to protection of cultural heritage, it is essential to acknowledge that respect of cultural heritage is not specifically associated with geographical locations and group of peoples belonged to different culture or religion. The world cultural heritage emphasized on the importance and worth of cultural heritage in all over the world without any discrimination (Margottini, 2013). This effort is made to promote the connection between different cultural values and beliefs, customs, religious values, traditions and historical information. In this way, the sense of belongingness and shared cultural values is developed by sharing mindset and historical background. All these aspects help to generate unity and strengthen relationship among different social groups in the society (Huibin et al., 2012).
Despite of various laws and constitutions at international level, the cultural heritage is not protected effectively due to increased discrimination and other social issues. In this regard, the minorities in every state are targeted mostly in all over the world especially in context of religious discrimination (Lowenthal, 2005). These communities are targeted by different ways such violent and vandalism. These actions are specifically taken by the non-state actors. In violent, different historical places and worship houses are violently targeted in order to destroy the religious or cultural significance of a specific community in a country or region. The purpose of these actions is basically to create fear among the people associated with targeted group. Sometimes, these violent actions are also taken by the state in form of seizure according to which differen...
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