The Meaning of 'Heritage': Mapping Discursive Perspectives with Q Methodology
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 29 - Issue 3/4 p. 138- 181
Heritage' is not a fixed, unchanging 'thing', but is something that is constructed, created, constituted and reflected by discourses. This contingency of 'heritage' upon discourse means that policy is not simply a neutral domain within which 'heritage' problems and solutions are mapped. Rather, policy becomes a site for analysis or a means by which to explore through discourse the social realities of heritage management, particularly in terms of the power relations that monitor and sustain social hierarchies and social change. This article maps a range of heritage perspectives using Q methodology. Key here is the idea that while expressions of heritage may be vocalised in similar ways, the meanings underpinning those vocalisations may be directed by different motives and underlying assumptions. Q methodology is thus used here to offer a way by which to recognise not only the natural or commonplace definitions of heritage privileged in national legislation, but those alternative perceptions understood and adhered to by other, and often subaltern, groups. As such, this article presents an overview of the different ways in which 'heritage' is perceived, examining both the nuances of the dominant perspective embedded in heritage policy, as well as a range of alternative experiences and perspectives that exist in tension with that dominant - and authorised - discourse.