Heritage Discourses

Ben Boer and Stefan Gruber, ‘Heritage Discourses’ in Kim Rubenstein and Brad Jessup (eds) Environmental Discourses in International and Public Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012) 375-398

23 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016

See all articles by Ben Boer

Ben Boer

The University of Sydney Law School, Environmental Law; Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University

Stefan Gruber

Wuhan University; The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law; Waseda University; Kyoto University - Hakubi Center for Advanced Research

Abstract

This chapter explores a variety of discourses in heritage protection. It starts by explaining and exploring the multiple ways of characterising and classifying heritage. Within public and international law, selected forms of heritage are protected in mostly consistent, though at times culturally distinct, ways. The chapter emphasises the influence of international law as providing a universal protection regime for widely accepted forms of heritage that has generally been incorporated into public laws of nations or has acted as an overarching influence which has been gradually adopted by initially reluctant nations. It also highlights how other forms or interpretations of ‘heritage’ at a national level are perceived and protected, often mimicking the international regime, while not necessarily being protected under it.

Presenting the different categories and understandings of ‘heritage’ underscores the term’s dynamism. Heritage does not mean just one thing, and it is not used consistently in language and argument. Heritage concepts change over time and this evolution is reflected in policies and legal instruments at an international and domestic level. The chapter shows how ‘heritage’ is used as a discourse in a variety of contexts relying on environmental theories to promote conservation of places, communities and cultures. While this continuing flux of heritage discourses can be confusing, it is often a richly rewarding interplay between what is regarded as of value and worth legally protecting, and what can be left to one side in the continuous march of seemingly inevitable ‘development’.

Keywords: Cultural heritage, World Heritage, UNESCO, heritage law, cultural rights

Suggested Citation

Boer, Ben and Gruber, Stefan, Heritage Discourses. Ben Boer and Stefan Gruber, ‘Heritage Discourses’ in Kim Rubenstein and Brad Jessup (eds) Environmental Discourses in International and Public Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012) 375-398, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2720117

Ben Boer

The University of Sydney Law School, Environmental Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University

Luojia Hill, Wuchang
Wuhan, Hubei
China

Stefan Gruber (Contact Author)

Wuhan University ( email )

School of Law
Luojia Hill, Wuchang
Wuhan, Hubei Province 430072
China

The University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Waseda University ( email )

1-104 Totsukamachi, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, 169-8050
Japan

Kyoto University - Hakubi Center for Advanced Research ( email )

Yoshidahonmachi
Sakyo Ward
Kyoto, 606-8501
Japan

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