Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage. Edited by Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Trinidad Rico. Boulder: The University Press of Colorado, 2015. Pp. xx + 292.
The editors of Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage argue that because culture and language are always changing, so must the ways we communicate about our culture and history. Scholars must constantly re-examine how we use language and develop those findings to create practical ways of dealing with heritage work today. Reexamining heritage keywords provides a "healthy system of checks-and-balances" to make sure the definition of what is or is not considered heritage remains up-to-date. Likewise, rhetoric and the study of it plays an important role in "deliberative democracy." That is to say that rhetoric serves as a theoretical orientation designed to complement and enhance the quality of established democratic practices (12). Their fundamental purpose behind reevaluating terms is to acknowledge and listen to more perspectives as well as urge scholars of heritage studies to operate locally instead of the current trend of increasing institutionalization.
The main goal of the book is to fuse rhetoric with heritage, social, political, and economic practices, in order to advocate for positive change. Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Trinidad Rico, the editors, have chosen sixteen phrases in heritage studies that have been oversimplified by scholars and which also highlight where this positive change can occur. The editors define cultural heritage as an object, site, building, landscape, or cultural practice that holds historic significance which deserves proper preservation. Their goal is to reexamine the sixteen keywords in cultural heritage studies to analyze the function of those words and redefine how we talk about heritage. After a brief introduction, each chapter analyzes one of the sixteen keywords. How we study heritage and the words assigned to it provide a vessel for contemporary engagement that needs to include more consideration for multiple perspectives.
Divided neatly into clear sections, each chapter problematizes the words that other scholars oversimplified. In chronological order, the words include authenticity, civil society, cultural diversity, cultural property, democratization, difficult heritage, equity, heritage at risk, heritage discourse, intangible heritage, memory, natural heritage, place, rights, and sustainability. Each author(s)...