This is the link to the article referenced to in this post!
We all want to travel, but a lot of the time it is not realistic or feasible for us to. For this blog post I will take us on a small journey to a region of Sweden in order to evaluate authorized heritage discourse. Thanks to Anders Högberg, the author of, “The Voice of the Authorized Heritage Discourse: A critical analysis of signs at ancient monuments in Skåne, Southern Sweden” we are able to get some further insight on the very daunting topic of authorized heritage discourse. What is labeled as heritage discourse is like all things subject to a multitude of interpretations, some of which may be the “proper” discourse for a world heritage site as claimed by so called professionals, or it is possible to receive an adequate universal description of a site in mind.
It is obvious that the people of the world are bound to exhibit differences amongst each other; in fact even the denizens of the United States differ from state to state in some way. With this logic in mind, it is almost bound to be the same in Europe, and specifically in regards to our location of current interest Sweden. In his article, Högberg expresses the problem of heritage sites being solely described by simple signs. He carefully mentions that by no means are signs the only way that these sites are being described or presented but he clearly states that signs are the most dominant form. In fact he goes on to mention that these signs are not even doing their job to begin with,
“Studies have shown, however, that when ancient monuments and sites today are made accessible and provided with signs, it is usually done through an official language and an attitude to information and what the information holds that has not changed noticeably in the last few decades.”
Högberg exclaims, “This is often the only information that meets a visitor to the place.” This shows that if more than face value is to be received from these sites or if full meaning is to be portrayed for all to observe, then changes must be made. Following the Nara conference of 1994, it was implemented into the arena of world heritage that perspective and subjective interpretations become essential in determining authenticity. Yet, this dilemma is still apparent in this region of Sweden and perhaps other areas of the world may be facing the same conflict.
What is most important about this article is the fact that one criterion for a world heritage site is that it has to possess some kind of “outstanding universal value.” However, this is almost impossible if the world heritage sites and their appropriate descriptions are controlled by a specific discourse or attitude based on their location. It is almost imperative to understanding world heritage that there are two the perspectives, “the informer and the informed.” Both of which are directly relayed by the method of informing, and in this case this is the infamous signs. Sites across the globe have had their meanings altered based on their location, as seen with the internal conflict of the Hannibal, Missouri site. Yet, what is important to remember is that there are certain forces that control aspects of our lives. Högberg puts it as such, “what is institutionally pointed out and what is individually experienced.” Even after all the media and our access to it, we still face the problem that the past has always faced in regards to these sites, interpretation. To understand is to know, and we cannot know what is not always directly apparent.
Take a look at these pictures that Högberg has provided in his article:
These are only a few sites in a grouping of many that are simply defined by these signs.