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Making the Past Less Foreign 2016 : Making the Past Less Foreign: Using Evidence Based on the Human Aspects of Heritage Conservation to Change Practice


When N/A
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Submission Deadline Jul 18, 2016
Categories    heritage preservation   environment   public policy

Call For Papers

Making the Past Less Foreign:
Using Evidence Based on the Human Aspects of Heritage Conservation to Change Practice

Editors: Dr. Jeremy C. Wells, Assistant Professor, Roger Williams University;
Dr. Barry L. Stiefel, Associate Professor, College of Charleston/Clemson University;

Instructions: Submit a 6,000-7,500-word paper (MS Word, RTF, ODF, or PDF document) for consideration and your contact information to the e-mail addresses above by Monday, July 18, 2016. Papers should be formatted using the APA parenthetical citation style. A maximum of six (6) illustrations are encouraged and should be submitted as either tiffs or jpeg files, at 300 dpi or higher, or eps files for vector-based images. Chapter contributors are responsible for obtaining copyright permissions. It is recommended that prospective contributors submit a 300 word abstract to the editors prior to the paper deadline. A brief CV/resume (two pages maximum) would also be appreciated.
Venue: Chosen papers will be combined with selected papers from a recent intensive at the EDRA47 conference and published in an edited volume via a university or scholarly press. Submissions are encouraged from all disciplines, academics and practitioners, and any country. Diverse cultural perspectives are especially welcome. The language of the publication will be American-style English. Non-native speakers of English should have their submitted papers reviewed by a native speaker.

Justification for this edited volume
The publication, thirty years ago, of David Lowenthal’s The Past is a Foreign Country (1985) is widely credited with moving the focus on heritage conservation from fabric to people and for creating the platform for a robust critique of preservation/conservation practice. Using a social science approach, heritage studies scholars have built on Lowenthal’s work to define orthodox practice as overly reliant on expert rule and positivistic, top-down processes while advocating for a more values-centered, ground-up approach to practice that empowers more stakeholders (Avrami, Mason, & Torre, 2000; Carman & Sørensen, 2009; Gibson & Pendlebury, 2009; Green, 1998; Harrison, 2013; Lixinski, 2015; Low, 1994; Smith, 2006; Waterton & Smith, 2010; Winter, 2013). This scholarship, however, has had little impact on the day-to-day practice of conserving the historic environment, especially in those aspects that overlap with the regulatory environment. Moreover, built heritage practitioners lack generalizable/transferable knowledge about the psychological, ethnographic, and experiential dimensions of the historic environment that are required to provide a proper context for effective interpretation and communication with stakeholders (Wells, 2015).
There is much confusion today about what it is we are really trying to conserve. Both fabric-centered and human-centered theories emphasize a focus on continuity, but as opposed to the continuity of fabric, human-centered theorists (Breglia, 2006; Muñoz Viñas, 2005; Smith, 2006; Zancheti & Loretto, 2012) direct that the focus should be on conserving the meanings associated with this fabric. Taken to its logical extreme, the fabric of a heritage object can change so long as the sociocultural meanings associated with the object are conserved. A “good” decision then becomes one that conserves the sociocultural meanings of place rather than the fabric of place. It is therefore incumbent upon the built heritage practitioner to recognize, gather, interpret, and understand a broad array of stakeholder meanings associated with place.
This shift in heritage conservation to people-centered approaches means that in the future, the role of the heritage practitioner moves from controlling meanings associated with fabric to facilitating the gathering and interpretation of meanings from people as well as empowering communities to recognize, treat, and interpret their built heritage and cultural landscapes. Built heritage practitioners will need to collect and interpret these meanings with more depth and consistency than has been happening to date using efficient and pragmatic social science tools that do not currently exist.
This publication therefore addresses the question of how human-centered conservation theory can and should change practice. For the most part, there are few answers to this question because professionals in the heritage conservation field do not use social science research methodologies to manage cultural landscapes, assess historical significance, and inform the treatment of building and landscape fabric. With few exceptions, only academic theorists have explored these topics while failing to offer specific, usable guidance on how the social sciences can actually be used by heritage professionals.

Papers should address one or more of the questions, below, that focus on bridging human-centered conservation theory and practice.
Collecting and understanding empirical evidence
Examples can originate in perspectives from anthropology, sociology, environmental psychology, participatory approaches, and humanistic geography among other possibilities.
• How do most people perceive and value the historic environment?
• How does the historic environment influence people’s behavior?
• What are the psychological effects of the historic environment on people? How does the historic environment influence emotional attachment to place?
• How do most people perceive the authenticity of the historic environment? What impact does authenticity have on cultural practices and on individuals?
• How should we train students in historic environment degree programs to implement human-centered theory in the practice of conserving the historic environment?
Using evidence to change practice and influence behavior
• How can human aspects of conservation be implemented in laws and rules? In other words, how can empirical evidence from applied social science research be used within a legal framework?
• How can we develop pragmatic, applied social science tools for built heritage practitioners, most of whom have no social science background, including ways to implement community-based participatory research?
• What are the differences in discourse between heritage professionals (conventional experts) and most stakeholders (civil experts) in regard to the conservation of the historic environment? How can understanding these differences improve communication?
• Advocates of environmental conservation are using applied social science methods (conservation social sciences) in an overt attempt to change people’s behavior. Should this approach be used in the field of heritage conservation and if so, how? What can we learn from environmental conservation?
For additional information, please refer to the “Principles for Integrating Environmental Design and Behavior Research into Built Heritage Conservation Practice” document at

Avrami, E., Mason, R., & de Torre, M. L. (2000). Values and heritage conservation. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute.
Breglia, L. (2006). Monumental ambivalence: The politics of heritage. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Carman, J., & Sørensen, M. L. S. (2009). Heritage studies: An outline. In M. L. S. Sørensen & J. Carman (Eds.), Heritage studies: Methods and approaches (pp. 11-28). Routledge.
Gibson, L. & Pendlebury, J. (Eds.), (2009). Valuing historic environments. Surry and Burlington: Ashgate Publishing.
Green, H. L. (1998). The social construction of historical significance. In M. A. Tomlan (Ed.), Preservation of what, for whom? A critical look at historical significance (pp. 85-94). Ithaca, NY: National Council for Preservation Education.
Harrison, R. (2013). Heritage: Critical approaches. New York: Routledge.
Lixinski, L. (2015). Between orthodoxy and heterodoxy: The troubled relationships between heritage studies and heritage law. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 21(3), 203-214.
Low, S. M. (1994). Cultural conservation of place. In M. Hufford (Ed.), Conserving culture: A new discourse on heritage (pp. 66-77). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Muñoz Viñas, S. (2005). Contemporary theory of conservation. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Schofield, J. (2014). Who needs experts? Counter-mapping cultural heritage. Farnham: Ashgate.
Smith, L. (2006). Uses of heritage. London and New York: Routledge.
Waterton, E. & Smith, L. (2010). The recognition and misrecognition of community heritage. International Journal of Heritage Studies 16 (1), 4-15.
Wells, J. (2015). Making a case for historic place conservation based on people’s values. Forum Journal of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 29 (3), 44-62.
Winter, T. (2013). Clarifying the critical in critical heritage studies. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 19(6), 532-545.
Zancheti, S. M., & Loretto, R. P. (2012). Dynamic integrity: A new concept to approach the conservation of historic urban landscape (HUL). In Textos para discussão no. 53 (pp. 1-11). Olinda, Brazil: Centro de Estudos Avançados da Conservação Integrada.

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