“Compelling, energizing, and foundational. Opens up an anthropological orientation, one which is welcome and exhilarating. Lafrenz Samuels’s equally significant introduction of the transnational as a new orientation in heritage studies offers an escape route from the conception of heritage as monopolized by the nation-state.”—Denis Byrne, author of Counterheritage: Critical Perspectives on Heritage Conservation in Asia
“Intellectually dazzling and boldly presented. Lafrenz Samuels critically roams over two centuries of political, philosophical, ethical, economic, and social thinking, building a compelling case for cultural heritage as the fulcrum of human rights, social and global justice, democracy, and necessary responses to global climate change. The new indispensable text in critical heritage studies.”—Helaine Silverman, coeditor of Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present
“Lucid and informed. Through closely argued explorations of the development paradigm, issues of social justice, democratic practice, migration and climate change, Mobilizing Heritage illuminates the many shifts that currently animate heritage theory and practice.”—Emma Waterton, coeditor of Heritage, Affect and Emotion: Politics, Practices and Infrastructures
Mapping out emerging areas for global cultural heritage, Mobilizing Heritage: Anthropological Practice and Transnational Prospects provides an anthropological perspective on the growing field of heritage studies. Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels adopts a dual focus—looking back on the anthropological foundations for cultural heritage research while looking forward to areas of practice that reach beyond national borders: economic development, climate action, democratic practice, heritage rights, and global justice. Taken together, these areas characterize transnational heritage activity and represent channels for working around, negotiating, and pushing back against the traditional authority of nation-states and intergovernmental treaty–based organizations such as UNESCO.
Lafrenz Samuels argues that transnational heritage involves an important shift from a paradigm of preservation to a paradigm of development. Responding to this expanding developmental sensibility, she positions cultural heritage as a persuasive tool for transformative action, capable of mobilizing and shaping social change. Using examples drawn from her research and fieldwork in North Africa, the Arctic, and the United States, she shows how anthropological approaches foster and support the persuasive power of heritage in the transnational sphere.
Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, is coeditor of Heritage Keywords: Rhetoric and Redescription in Cultural Heritage and Making Roman Places: Past and Present.