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Graham, Brian, G. J. Ashworth and J. E. Tunbridge. A Geography of Heritage: Power, Culture & Economy. London: Arnold, 2000 (284 pp.). This far-reaching text provides dozens of interesting ideas about the nature, ownership, and presentation of heritage, although it is probably more valuable as an academic exercise than as a helpful tool for heritage tourism managers. Indeed, one has the feeling the three well-known authors are writing more for their peers than heritage practitioners. The "Geography" in the title refers to the fact that heritage and the identities people draw from it are place-based – at local, national, even supra-national levels – but the discipline of geography as a rule has been less than enthusiastic about incorporating heritage studies. Like geography, say the writers, heritage has a location, it moves through space, it is bound up in notions of scale, and, like place, it is a social construct. Graham and his co-authors, all European, begin with a rather ordinary treatise on the origins and meaning of heritage. Given that their thesis is that heritage is a fragmented, multi-dimensional, contested concept, it would have been helpful to find more dissension in the opening chapters, i.e., more ideas of people defining and "using" heritage in other ways. Their definition, that heritage is "using the past as a resource for the present," is never challenged and seldom opened up; and throughout the book they are preoccupied with the notion of heritage as old buildings and artifacts (betraying their European lineage, perhaps), rather than heritage as performance (dance, music), language, or other less purpose-built manifestations of culture. Still, the value here is the authors’ inquiry into the notion of heritage "dissonance." When trying to determine what heritage is; whose story gets told; and how it should be funded, produced, and used, there will always be a lack of agreement at any scale (local, national), from any perspective (gender, ethnic), or even from within the heritage community itself (conservation vs. commodification). Their conclusion, which runs throughout every chapter (the book is very repetitive) is that the "relationship between heritage, identity, and place can now be seen as intensely heterogeneous and full of nuances and ambiguities." Okay, but what’s more helpful are the numerous case studies that illustrate not only the fragmented and contested nature of heritage, but also the ways in which institutions, communities, and entire nations have tried to create harmony out of dissonance for political, social, and economic purposes (although these are less "how-to’s" than narratives). One wishes the chapters on the economic dimensions of heritage would confront some of the more troubling questions (about ownership, exploitation, presentation) that this form of tourism prompts; instead, the authors introduce some of the more commonplace issues without dealing with them in any depth (except for a helpful discussion of sustainability). Most of the economic study is devoted to cost-benefit analyses of heritage institutions, the ways heritage might contribute to local economies, and how heritage can be incorporated into city planning (the section on history-built places is helpful). They take few positions with respect to heritage’s economic impact, and that’s part of the frustrating thing with this book: since heritage is such a fluid, multi-faceted concept, the authors are not inclined to adopt any points of view (other than to say heritage is dissonant and we need to work through it). Those interested in a macro-level conversation about heritage will discover much in this book to inspire debate; heritage practitioners, on the other hand, who should also be aware of these more conceptual issues, will find less to help them do their job.


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