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Michael F. Brown

Published On


Page Range

pp. 171-179

Print Length

8 pages

11. The Possibilities and Perils of Heritage Management

  • Michael F. Brown (author)
Although the right of communities to practice their culture and defend it from unwanted appropriation is widely regarded as a human right, the precise means by which this right can be defended and administered remains uncertain. The very notion of ‘managing’ a society’s multiple forms of collective expression entails a degree of objectification that poses a potential threat to culture’s inherent (and necessary) fluidity. This chapter considers the challenge of finding an appropriate balance between ethical considerations and the Law of Unintended Consequences in the vexed arena of heritage protection. Using brief case studies, Brown highlights the tendency of heritage protection strategies to gravitate to top-down, ‘patrimonial’ models of control that treat culture as a commodity. The chapter concludes by making the ethical case for more informal and flexible approaches to heritage protection that forsake comprehensiveness in the interest of accommodating every culture’s need to borrow, remix, and adapt in order to remain vibrant.


Michael F. Brown