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Valuing local built heritage in a global setting : Identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland

Elkadi, HA 2006, 'Valuing local built heritage in a global setting : Identity & visual perceptions of cultural built heritage in Northern Ireland' , Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century Forum UNESCO : University and Heritage 10th International Seminar and Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress .

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Abstract

In these troubled times with the world in search of its bearings and wayward minds using the terms culture and civilization in an attempt to turn human beings against one another, there is an urgent need to remember how fundamental cultural diversity is to humanity itself (UNESCO 2002). The progressive idea of culture can be used in regressive ways by extremists who used it occasionally to pursue the politics of xenophobia and exclusion. The hypothesis that different communities can share the same culture but have different visual perception of their built environment might seems contradictory. It is essential to describe what is meant by the same culture. The ever evolving changes of definition and re-definition of the word has not yet settled. This paper adopts the descriptive definition of culture while challenging its interpretation. The descriptive definition refers to all the characteristics activities by a people. While this description is generally accepted, the interpretation of what a people means is divisive. It is not clear how Eliot defines a people. Is the term genetically prescribed or is a people place related? And what about the moral and religious orientation? This paper argues that culture is basically place related and the forces that shape a culture of a people are deeply embedded in the environmental forces that also shape other aspects of the place making and its identity. The paper addresses the questions of conflicts, value systems, and culture definitions and the inseparable links with architecture aesthetics. Local built heritage in Northern Ireland is taken as a case study. Unlike many parts of the world, visual perceptions in Northern Ireland is well recognised with iconic as well as formal representations. The population is well aware of the signified as well as the signifiers. The boundaries between iconology and formalism theories are very blurred in the Northern Ireland context. This paper examines how the two communities visually perceive their shared built heritage and the extent of overlapping between the understanding of iconic and formalist visual representations in the built environment. The paper takes the buildings of the successful economic ventures of the shirt industry in the 19th century as a case study. The case study provides an insight of how a signified value of a successful economic regeneration initiative that is deeply imbedded in the social structure and within the urban fabric can overcome divisive visual perception. The paper examines the possibility of building upon the historical success of the shirt industry to promote architectural cultural dialogue in which cultural built heritage in Derry is able to facilitate knowledge creation and social capital in different arenas.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of the Built Environment
Journal or Publication Title: Cultural Landscapes in the 21st Century Forum UNESCO : University and Heritage 10th International Seminar and Inter-Congress of the World Archaeological Congress
Publisher: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Christine Tate
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2015 17:15
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2016 19:30
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/35712

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