Advanced

Heritagelore : Museums and the manner in which Heritage might be understood in a trialectic framework of place, materiality and mobility

O'Dell, Thomas LU and Gradén, Lizette LU (2017) American Folklore Society, 2017 Annual Meeting
Abstract
Historian David Lowenthal (1985) has pointed out the past is often perceived and represented as “a foreign country” in which cultural heritage is implicitly understood to be bound to geographical territories and associated notions of what it implies to have roots, an identity, and a place in which to belong. This is the paradigmatic background against which so many heritage museums have been founded. As part of the heritage politics debate, folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has argued that heritage object are “made, not found, despite claims to the contrary” (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:3). Her point is that there is no heritage object prior to its identification, evaluation, conservation, and celebration (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett... (More)
Historian David Lowenthal (1985) has pointed out the past is often perceived and represented as “a foreign country” in which cultural heritage is implicitly understood to be bound to geographical territories and associated notions of what it implies to have roots, an identity, and a place in which to belong. This is the paradigmatic background against which so many heritage museums have been founded. As part of the heritage politics debate, folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has argued that heritage object are “made, not found, despite claims to the contrary” (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:3). Her point is that there is no heritage object prior to its identification, evaluation, conservation, and celebration (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:149).
However, we live in a world which is more than ever before entwined with processes of mobility. It is a world in which some people move for the sake of work, love, and the dream of a better life, while too many others feel forced to move due to economic crises, poverty, religious conflicts, war, and political persecution. Heritage, it might be said is being shaken and stirred by processes of globalization that are increasingly difficult to ignore. Faced with the realization of this reality, museums of heritage increasingly find themselves challenged to rethink the work they do, and the way in which they speak about, represent, and exhibit heritage (Levitt 2015).
This paper focuses on the manner in which two heritage sites (The Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm and American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis) in Sweden and Swedish America are working with and speaking about heritage - at times creating new forms of heritagelore, at other times building upon rather traditional notions of what “the heritage” under their auspices is and can be. Both sites were built as private homes at the turn of 20th century by people who were themselves migrants - as such their histories entwine processes of globalization, mobility and heritage. The paper analyzes the manner in which these two institutions are moving and mobilizing the concept of heritage. In so doing, it strives to illuminate the manner in which heritage might be understood in a trialectic framework of place, materiality and mobility. It closes by discussion how insights gained from the study of these two museums might be useful in facilitating the ability for ethnologists and folklorists to reposition contemporary heritagelore in a context of migration and mobility.

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998. Destination Culture: Museums, Tourism and Heritage. Berkeley: California University Press.
Levitt, Peggy (2015) Artifacts and Allegiances. How museums put the nation and the world on display, Oakland: University of California Press.
Lowenthal, David (2015 (1985). The past is a foreign country: revisited. Revised and updated edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Lowenthal, David (1996). Possessed by the Past. New York: Free Press
(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to conference
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Historic Preservation, Performance, Museum management, Nordic, Place and Space
conference name
American Folklore Society, 2017 Annual Meeting
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
8878d743-0e6f-4122-ae1a-2c5d2ab8bc0b
date added to LUP
2017-12-20 11:39:54
date last changed
2018-02-08 13:11:47
@misc{8878d743-0e6f-4122-ae1a-2c5d2ab8bc0b,
  abstract     = {Historian David Lowenthal (1985) has pointed out the past is often perceived and represented as “a foreign country” in which cultural heritage is implicitly understood to be bound to geographical territories and associated notions of what it implies to have roots, an identity, and a place in which to belong. This is the paradigmatic background against which so many heritage museums have been founded. As part of the heritage politics debate, folklorist Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett has argued that heritage object are “made, not found, despite claims to the contrary” (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:3). Her point is that there is no heritage object prior to its identification, evaluation, conservation, and celebration (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998:149). <br/>However, we live in a world which is more than ever before entwined with processes of mobility. It is a world in which some people move for the sake of work, love, and the dream of a better life, while too many others feel forced to move due to economic crises, poverty, religious conflicts, war, and political persecution. Heritage, it might be said is being shaken and stirred by processes of globalization that are increasingly difficult to ignore. Faced with the realization of this reality, museums of heritage increasingly find themselves challenged to rethink the work they do, and the way in which they speak about, represent, and exhibit heritage (Levitt 2015).<br/>This paper focuses on the manner in which two heritage sites (The Hallwyl Museum, Stockholm and American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis) in Sweden and Swedish America are working with and speaking about heritage - at times creating new forms of heritagelore, at other times building upon rather traditional notions of what “the heritage” under their auspices is and can be. Both sites were built as private homes at the turn of 20th century by people who were themselves migrants - as such their histories entwine processes of globalization, mobility and heritage. The paper analyzes the manner in which these two institutions are moving and mobilizing the concept of heritage. In so doing, it strives to illuminate the manner in which heritage might be understood in a trialectic framework of place, materiality and mobility. It closes by discussion how insights gained from the study of these two museums might be useful in facilitating the ability for ethnologists and folklorists to reposition contemporary heritagelore in a context of migration and mobility.<br/><br/>Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998. Destination Culture: Museums, Tourism and Heritage. Berkeley: California University Press. <br/>Levitt, Peggy (2015) Artifacts and Allegiances. How museums put the nation and the world on display, Oakland: University of California Press.<br/>Lowenthal, David (2015 (1985). The past is a foreign country: revisited. Revised and updated edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press<br/>Lowenthal, David (1996). Possessed by the Past. New York: Free Press<br/>},
  author       = {O'Dell, Thomas and Gradén, Lizette},
  keyword      = {Historic Preservation,Performance,Museum management,Nordic,Place and Space},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Heritagelore : Museums and the manner in which Heritage might be understood in a trialectic framework of place, materiality and mobility},
  year         = {2017},
}