Authorised Heritage Discourse

  • Words 1979
  • Pages 4
Download PDF


This article outlines the concept of Heritage and Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD). The main aim of this article is to examine Laura Smith’s concept of AHD and to find the best understanding of contemporary heritage practices. In this paper, the characteristics of Authorised Heritage Discourse and the process of Heritage has been examined. Some cultural heritage is clearly examined in the study. The Concept of contemporary heritage practices and some examples of contemporary heritage practices have been elaborated in the study. Various assumptions regarding the AHD has also been considered in this paper.

Conference paper presented to the ‘Missing Out on Heritage: Socio-Economic Status and Heritage Participation’ Conference, English Heritage, March 2009.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

The concept of ‘Heritage; and ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’ (AHD)

Heritage is defined as the practices that belong to the person by his birth time or is passed through one generation to the next. This paper is about the “Missing Out on Heritage”. Most of the people missed the heritage because of their class, race or religion. In the country of the United Kingdom, heritage is considered as the history of the Anglo elite and mainly used by Aspirational Middle Class. Laurajane Smith reveals the uses of heritage in different places. She explains that a Discourse Heritage is largely depended upon the uses of heritage Taylor, J., and Gibson, L. (2016, 408-420). This use of heritage is most specifically dependent on discourse that conflict with other heritage in the subject. Heritage is managed or maintained by the particular community, called a social construction. This construction of society is considered as the best useful heritage Colomer (2017, 913-927).

The Article presented by Laura Smith described that the nature of heritage is exclusion and intentional also. Heritage plays an important role in defining the cultural norms, values, and beliefs. The study identifies the discourses about the heritage that creates and develops the debate on social presence. Heritage is missing especially in the context of a particular community and education. However, the agenda of social inclusion is to create the heritage sector extra inclusive among the society so that the missing heritage is eliminated. Among all of these, some inclusion practices and policies related to society are assimilate and intended to de-legitimize and iron out cultural diversity. Heritage is also considered to be finite, non – renewable and fragile in nature. Also, it is observed under the care of that expertise that is stand or placed best in the past or future. The experts communicate about the heritage value of the specific nation that is linked to the architects, historians, and archaeologists. Smith wants to ask why the heritage is so much missing in the society, why the persons do not consider that the class of white middle people is not adopted the heritage class in their work culture, why British, African and so forth communities are missing the heritage. She asked why it is always important for the people to visit the heritage places and cultural places when they do not adopt the heritage in their work life and personal life. Should it be meaningful for people to miss their heritage? No, it is not. This article represents a limited definition of heritage and reveals the misunderstanding role of heritage in regulating and building the social and cultural debate Hølleland, H., Skrede, J. and Holmgaard, S. (2017, 210-237).

For developing the above argument, the concept of Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) has been developed. Authorized Heritage Discourse entails different types of disagreements and differentiation. The article described that, in the 19th Century, AHD was developed in Western Europe that moves out of the nervousness and protects the culture directly for achieving the transferable value. The protection of cultural diversity shows that they may forge a common distinctiveness based on the previous experience. However, the concept of AHD mainly emphases the attention on the material objects, landscapes, places, sites that care, protects and revere the recent generations. Smith choose various option from the elite class experiences and the Western nations. She reinforces these options in the innate cultural value that are also linked to knowledge of the expert, aesthetics, monumentality and time depth. The option related to the value of the material culture is innate in nature instead of associative discourse in nature Smith (2012).

Characteristics of AHD

Smith defines, the characteristics of AHD which are elaborated as following:

  • The idea of treating the heritage is inherently valuable, “all that is good and important about the past” is contributing to the development of the “cultural character of the present.”
  • Legitimate spokespersons of the past generation often have the authority such as they invite expert named architects, historians and archaeologists for the purpose of estimating the past that it is valuable or not.

In this article, Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) shapes the people’s mind in order to focus on what is valuable, preserved and promoted in the society. However, Smith argues that AHD’s formation mainly depends upon the a) Nations’ large narratives and the imperialist past, b) increase in the professional discourse of the 19th century that focuses on aesthetic and expert judgment, c) the authorization institutions and international organizations for attaining the universal dependence.

This article thus explored the concept of Inheritance. This type of concept is focusing on to ensure that the present generations are not actively engaged in the Heritage. With the changes in time, Heritage is missing out and it changes the perception of the community. Smith described in the article that when the person grows, he challenges the social inheritance. In recent research, some people do not follow the norms, values, and beliefs that encourage them, they do not follow the religious practices that brought them to believe more. They do not often accept the route that was selected by their past generation. Some people are against the heritage and create a flow that formulated a new theory of “how the world works”.

The article described the point of view of an employee who worked in the National Coal Museum. He suggests different solutions for the problems that are faced by the social community and said that the problem is not considered in ethics if the heritage is excluded by the community in their framework.

Heritage: A Social Process

In this study, heritage is considered as a social process and according to Smith, heritage also comes under in the category of Cultural work. A social process involves different types of ways where individuals and group of individuals interact with each other and establish a relationship between the people. Along with it, the interaction that occurs again and again in society is called Social heritance. Smith said that Heritage is a cultural and social directed process of stimulating emotional power Winter, T. (2013, 556-572). It is a process that acts personally and socially for the purpose of understanding the past and present behavior of the individual. The author refers that social interaction involves the various type of functions such as the function or relation between group and group, between individual and individual, between group and individual and vice versa. Smith defines two types of social interaction conditions – a) Social communication b) social contact. Social communication comes in the form of direct person to person through some medium range to long range contact i.e. television, telephone, telegraph, etc. Whereas Social contact is known as the first phase interaction through the reason of sense organ of the individual.

Types of Heritage

The types of Heritage include – Cultural Property, Intangible culture, and natural heritage.

  1. Cultural Property – Cultural property heritage is also considered as a tangible cultural heritage. This type of heritage includes the group of movable and immovable heritage. Where movable heritage involves document, clothing, machines and some other things and the immovable heritage involves large installation of the industry and other historic monuments and sites.
  2. Intangible Culture – This type of culture consider the non – physical aspects including values and traditions, customs, languages and other human tasks.
  3. Natural heritage – It is considered as part of the social heritage. Natural heritage serves majorly to the tourist industry by attracting the number of visitors. This type of heritage involves cultural landscapes that have natural cultural attributes Germundsson, T. (2005, 21-37).

Contemporary Heritage Practices

It has been observed that cultural heritage consists of the attributes of a society or the group related to the past. However, cultural heritage includes tangible culture, intangible culture, and national heritage. The tangible culture involves landscapes, monuments, books, work of art, buildings whereas Intangible culture involves traditions, language, folklore, knowledge and national heritage includes biodiversity and significant cultural landscapes. Smith argues that some people use contemporary language with the consideration of social resources including economic assets and factors that enhance social integration. The contemporary heritage practices are now adopted by the young generation people and avoided by the past generation people. In addition to it, Laurajane Smith argues that Authorised Heritage Discourse naturalizes the practices of heritage for considering what ought to promote and what ought to be preserved Holtorf & Högberg (2006, 509-523).

Examples of Contemporary Heritage Practices

Let’s take the example of Chinese Renaissance architecture. The profession of architecture is decreasing and the members of the society resist this type of profession. This shows the disbelief in the architecture’s opinion. Smith argues that the public perceives the lower value about the profession of architecting and then relates this profession to the historic environment. The author said that Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) helps to promote the profession in the contemporary world.

AHD creates a sense of continuity that has been spoken by many of the country houses. The surroundings of the house create a feeling of comfortability in the house through contemporary heritage practices. This type of comfortability makes the work easier for the people and also creates life easier in their day to day routine.

Another example in contemporary practices is the Modern Conversational Movement. In the 18th century, it has been found that Europe is considered as the Age of Enlightenment development. The modern world is characterized by a sense of historical consciousness and cultural value. The cultural values cannot be as long as it is defined in the classical age on the basis of the capacity of the products and the total system of equivalence. The modern conversational movement in AHD describes the practices of heritage and reveals the linkage between the value and the act of conversation.

Assumptions of AHD

  1. The Authorised Heritage Discourse refers to a type of Identity. It refers that heritage is concerned to the construction of identity, especially to the national identity. The study explored the information on how the sense of identity is actually constructed from the places and sites of heritage. This information helps in facilitating the acceptance of legitimized and established culture and the acceptance of social values identity. The acceptance of identity shows that heritage is somehow embedded with sites and some monuments.
  2. The second assumption is the ‘innate value of heritage’. This type of value reinforces the idea that heritage shows important information about the past by contributing to the development of the cultural value of the present.


  1. Colomer, LAILA. 2017, ‘Heritage on the move. Cross-cultural heritage as a response to globalization, mobilities and multiple migrations’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 23, no. 10, 913-927,
  2. Smith, LAURAJANE. 2012, ‘Discourses of heritage: implications for archaeological community practice.’,
  3. Holtorf, CORNELIUS. & Högberg, ANDERS. 2006, ‘Contemporary Heritage and the Future’, The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Heritage Research, 509-523,
  4. Hølleland, H., Skrede, J. and Holmgaard, S. 2017, ‘Cultural Heritage and Ecosystem Services, A Literature Review’, Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, vol. 19, no. 3, 210-237,
  5. Taylor, J. and Gibson, L. 2016, ‘Digitisation, digital interaction and social media: embedded barriers to democratic heritage’ International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 23, no. 5, 408- 420,
  6. Germundsson, T. 2005, ‘Regional cultural heritage versus national heritage in Scania’s disputed national landscape’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, 21-37,
  7. Winter, T. 2013, ‘Heritage studies and the privileging of theory’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 20, no. 5, 556-572,


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.