ChicagoBuckley, Kristal. “Heritage Work: Understanding the Values, Applying the Values.” In Values in Heritage Management: Emerging Approaches and Research Directions, by Erica Avrami, Susan Macdonald, Randall Mason, and David Myers.
Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 2019. http://www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-3/part-two/4/.
MLABuckley, Kristal. “Heritage Work: Understanding the Values, Applying the Values.” Values in Heritage Management: Emerging Approaches and Research Directions, by
Erica Avrami, et al,
The Getty Conservation Institute, 2019. http://www.getty.edu/publications/occasional-papers-3/part-two/4/. Accessed DD Mon. YYYY.
4. Heritage Work: Understanding the Values, Applying the Values
The inclusion of social value within the constellation of heritage values that lend significance to specific places is not new. But heritage practitioners have recently developed creative responses to new pulses shaping heritage itself. Given societal expectations that our work be transparent, democratic, and able to be validated, the development of social value methods has been slow. Colleagues and political decision makers alike privately express doubts about the legitimacy of social value; meanwhile, many communities have up-skilled and are doing their own heritage work. This paper explores shifting influences in heritage practice and how it engages with people, considering challenges of representation, essentialism, diversity, accumulation, scale, fluidity, repeatability, and affordability. These ideas are explored through examples drawn from practice in southeastern Australia.
The proposition that social value (also known as “associative” value or intangible cultural heritage) should be part of the constellation of heritage values that can imbue particular places with significance is not new. However, it has begun to be more routinely asserted, mainstreamed, and internationalized in heritage practices. In this context, this paper reflects on the work of heritage, particularly the elicitation of values from communities and the implications this work can have for conservation outcomes.
Arguably all heritage values are “intangible” and all meanings applied to heritage places are socially constructed and selected. Consideration of different values is embedded in many formal systems of heritage recognition. The examination and application of “historical” and “aesthetic” significances are well established in Western-derived systems. These have their own knowledge bases, standards, and methods, particularly when applied to architecture and archaeological material. Therefore, the conceptual expansion of heritage designations of places (including sites, areas, and landscapes) on the basis of their associative meanings invites questions about how these values are asserted, portrayed, and respected.
In the name of inclusion, heritage concepts have expanded to include … almost anything! (see Harrison 2012Citation: Harrison, Rodney. 2012. “Forgetting to Remember, Remembering to Forget: Late Modern Heritage Practices, Sustainability and the ‘Crisis’ of Accumulation of the Past.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 19 (6): 579–95.; Silberman 2016Citation: Silberman, Neil A. 2016. “Heritage Places: Evolving Conceptions and Changing Forms.” In A Companion to Heritage Studies, edited by W. Logan, Máiréad Nic Craith, and Ullrich Kockel, 29–40. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons.), and new methods have emerged to ensure that the intangible dimensions are given weight alongside the values that are commonly applied to the fabric of heritage places. However, the suite of outcomes foreshadowed by the processes of conservation has not changed substantially for the last century or so. The consequences of heritage designation (particularly on the basis of social value) are therefore somewhat narrowly imagined, and changes in methods to identify values with communities may need to be augmented by new means of achieving their safeguarding and transmission.
This paper is based on a belief that the experience of heritage practice can lead in addressing these challenges. It focuses on how practitioners work with the many people who hold perspectives on the heritage values of particular places—or in other words, the elicitation of values from those who hold them. Thus it begins with the idea of “social value” and considers the impacts of significance thresholds before briefly presenting three cases drawn from current practices in southeastern Australia.1
Constructing Heritage Values
This paper and the discussion of how values are understood in heritage practice is situated within an Australian context, and is informed by experiences of applying the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (the Burra Charter) for close to four decades.2 The Burra Charter (Australia ICOMOS 2013aCitation: Australia ICOMOS. 2013a. The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance. Burwood: Australia ICOMOS. http://australia.icomos.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Burra-Charter-2013-Adopted-31.10.2013.pdf.) was intended as a localized adaptation of the Venice Charter (ICOMOS 1965Citation: ICOMOS. 1965. International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (The Venice Charter 1964). [Paris]: ICOMOS. https://www.icomos.org/charters/venice_e.pdf.) and associated international doctrinal frameworks for heritage conservation to Australian practice (Logan 2004Citation: Logan, William. 2004. “Introduction: Voices from the Periphery: The Burra Charter in Context.” Historic Environment 18 (1): 2–8.). Values-based management was not the invention of the Burra Charter, but despite its parochial purposes, the charter is often credited with the promulgation of this approach and its wider use (Jerome 2014Citation: Jerome, Pamela. 2014. “The Values-Based Approach to Cultural-Heritage Preservation.” APT Bulletin 45 (2/3): 3–8.). The core message of the Burra Charter is that a very sound understanding of a place should enable the full array of its values to be articulated in a statement of significance, which is then the touchstone of policy development and decision making.
Values-based systems of formal heritage assessment and protection are constructed around frameworks that shape the ways that places and objects are designated as heritage. One clear point of departure from the articulation of historical and aesthetic significance in the Venice Charter has been the inclusion of social value in the Burra Charter from its beginning in 1979.3 The importance of this difference to the internationally sanctioned canon should not be underestimated.4 For example, Sharon Sullivan has said that the inclusion of social value provided the foundation for practitioners to begin to explore the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal people in New South Wales in the late 1970s, well before any formal policy or legal requirement (Sullivan 2004Citation: Sullivan, Sharon. 2004. “Aboriginal Sites and ICOMOS Guidelines.” Historic Environment 3 (1): 14–33.; Buckley and Sullivan 2014Citation: Buckley, Kristal, and Sharon Sullivan. 2014. “Issues in Values-Based Management for Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Australia.” APT Bulletin 45 (4): 35–42.).
In their essay in this volume, Erica Avrami and Randall Mason point out that schemes of value sets sometimes treat individual value categories as silos when in fact significances are derived from the interplay among values. Nevertheless, as table 1 illustrates, each of the well-known values frameworks within Australian heritage practice creates space for social value to be articulated within statutory and non-statutory contexts for places and objects, and within both natural and cultural heritage regimes.
National Heritage List
Natural Heritage Charter
International (1964) Monuments and Sites
Australia (1979–2013) Cultural Heritage Places
Australia (2004) Natural and Cultural Heritage Places
While these frameworks have a degree of coherence, there are others that pose additional values. For example, Randall Mason (2008Citation: Mason, Randall. 2008. “Assessing Values in Conservation Planning: Methodological Issues and Choices.” In The Heritage Reader, edited by Graham Fairclough, Rodney Harrison, John H. Jameson Jr., and John Schofield, 99–124. New York: Routledge.) proposes a framework that places heritage values and socioeconomic values together. Including a wider set of potential values could usefully reflect the inescapable social and political nature of heritage, although it could also pose practical complexities, especially when trying to decide which values “count” most. The Burra Charter process takes a midway position, proposing a sequence whereby the values that comprise cultural significance are considered first, before incorporating the wider issues and constraints arising from socioeconomic values.5 However, the means by which these are effectively included in heritage work is a continuing challenge.
Despite its early inclusion within the Burra Charter, social value was poorly operationalized compared to other values, and in the early 1990s was the subject of an important exploration by Chris Johnston (1992Citation: Johnston, Chris. 1992. What Is Social Value? A Discussion Paper. Australian Heritage Commission Technical Publications Series 3. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. http://www.contextpl.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/What_is_Social_Value_web.pdf.; see also Walker 2014Citation: Walker, Meredith. 2014. “The Development of the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter.” APT Bulletin 45 (2/3): 9–16.; Johnston 2014Citation: Johnston, Chris. 2014. “Inhabiting Place: Social Significance in Practice in Australia.” APT Bulletin 45 (2/3): 39–47.). Social-value methods have continued to be relatively underdeveloped, and heritage assessments often make assumptions and conclusions about social value without specifically researching it. An obvious further weakness is that social value is yet to be widely assessed or applied outside Australia, and there is some confusion about how it should be, as well as how it should be incorporated into heritage management.6
The Burra Charter Practice Note on “Understanding and Assessing Cultural Significance” explains the use of social value according to the three specific dimensions.7
Social value refers to the associations that a place has for a particular community or cultural group and the social or cultural meanings that it holds for them. To understand social value, ask:
Is the place important as a local marker or symbol?
Is the place important as part of community identity or the identity of a particular cultural group?
Is the place important to a community or cultural group because of associations and meanings developed from long use and association? (Australia ICOMOS 2013bCitation: Australia ICOMOS. 2013b. Burra Charter Practice Notes. Burwood: Australia ICOMOS. http://australia.icomos.org/publications/charters/., 4)
When considering the methods for determining social value, there is sometimes confusion between the engagements with people to articulate social value versus the need for participation in decisions and inclusion in the management of heritage places. All are critically important, but social-value assessment (for example, through cultural mapping) and community consultation are not the same thing, even if they might involve some of the same people or employ overlapping methods.
Academic criticisms of the Burra Charter and values-based management are pertinent because they focus on the ability to democratize heritage practice and the processes of representation. For example, while the articulation of social value necessitates a different and decentered role for heritage experts, Emma Waterton, Laurajane Smith, and Gary Campbell (2006Citation: Waterton, Emma, Laurajane Smith, and Gary Campbell. 2006. “The Utility of Discourse Analysis to Heritage Studies: The Burra Charter and Social Inclusion.” International Journal of Heritage Studies 12 (4): 339–55.) use critical discourse analysis to show that the voice in the Burra Charter (or indeed any device of its kind) serves to shore up rather than devolve the authority of experts. They conclude that the Burra Charter is less supportive of diversity and community-centered practice than it claims. Ioannis Poulios has criticized values-based management itself because it insufficiently considers the needs and rights of the present generation. He prefers the term “living heritage” (2010Citation: Poulios, Ioannis. 2010. “Moving Beyond a Values-Based Approach to Heritage Conservation.” Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 12 (2): 170–85., 175–78). However, there are many counterexamples where mindful application of values-based management and skillful facilitation of social-values methodologies have had empowering outcomes.
These critiques call for more focused attention on the articulation of social value, foreshadowing methodological improvements. It must be acknowledged that currently there are shortcomings. For example, the Burra Charter is better equipped to deal with some kinds of places than others (Buckley and Fayad 2017Citation: Buckley, Kristal, and Susan Fayad. 2017. “The HUL and the Australian Burra Charter: Some Implications for Local Heritage Practices.” Historic Environment 29 (2): 46–57.), and its assertion that values are “inherent” or “intrinsic” to the place itself is debated by Australian practitioners (Byrne, Brayshaw, and Ireland 2003Citation: Byrne, Denis, Helen Brayshaw, and Tracy Ireland. 2003. Social Significance: A Discussion Paper. 2nd edition. Sydney: New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. Accessed March 29, 2018. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/cultureheritage/SocialSignificance.pdf., 55–58; but see also Walker 2014Citation: Walker, Meredith. 2014. “The Development of the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter.” APT Bulletin 45 (2/3): 9–16.). In this volume, Avrami and Mason summarize an emerging status quo, saying that “values are not fixed, but subjective and situational.” Future changes to the Burra Charter and its accompanying Practice Notes may therefore see changes in these areas.
Localizing Heritage and the Effects of Significance Thresholds
The commonly applied significance thresholds can have an impact on the recognition of social value. It is often the case that social value is more rigorously researched, articulated, and respected at the local significance threshold, and more challenging and generalized at other scales of assessment. Methods for mapping attachment when working directly with local communities seem better developed, compared with approaches for determining social value at the state or national threshold.
An example is the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens in central Melbourne, which was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2004. This place has four separate statements of significance, all using values-based approaches derived from formal systems of regulation but saying different things. The 1880 and 1888 international exhibitions were held here, the largest events ever staged in colonial Australia. These were consciously intended to introduce the world to Australian industry and technology. The World Heritage List citation says that this place is important as a surviving manifestation of the international exhibition movement that blossomed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, showcasing technological innovation and change and promoting a rapid increase in industrialization and international trade through the exchange of knowledge and ideas (UNESCO 2017Citation: UNESCO [United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization]. 2017. Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. Accessed March 29, 2018. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1131.).
But most Melbournians would not mention these reasons if asked about the place’s significance. They would instead speak of its architectural merits, particularly the elaborately restored 1901 interior decorative scheme (fig. 4.1a and fig. 4.1b); the fact that it was built by David Mitchell, father of Dame Nellie Melba, an internationally famous Australian operatic soprano; or that it is where everyone has taken their school exams or graduated from university. They would recall that the first moments of the independent nation of Australia occurred at this place, with the initial meeting of the Australian Federal Parliament in 1901—something not mentioned in the World Heritage designation, but prominent in the National Heritage List citation (Department of the Environment and Energy [Australia] 2017aCitation: Department of the Environment and Energy (Australia). 2017a. “Australia’s National Heritage List.” Accessed March 29, 2018. http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national-heritage-list.). The building was also used as a migrant reception center, influenza hospital, wartime military facility, and in 1956 an Olympic Games venue (Department of Planning and Community Development [Victoria] 2011Citation: Department of Planning and Community Development (Victoria). 2011. Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens World Heritage Management Plan. Melbourne: Department of Planning and Community Development.). While heritage listings at the national and state levels do recognize the social value of this place, these are expressed in a generalized way that does not clearly distinguish between past (socialhistory) and present (social value) associations. Policy directions arising from these value statements mostly concern interpretation and continued public use, quite a different level of detail when compared with the values attached to the historical and aesthetic values of the building and garden designs. It is unlikely that studies of the social value of this place have been conducted, despite it being the only place in the state that has reached the pinnacle of heritage thresholds through its inclusion in the World Heritage List.