Heritage in the Modern World: Historical Preservation in Global Perspective

Corey Ross (Editor), Paul Betts (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The yearning for rooted legacies and ancestral worship has been fundamental to the construction of modern identities throughout the world. From the origins of historic preservationism in early eighteenth-century Europe to the rise of new heritage industries after the Second World War, efforts to conserve and protect a collective inheritance have not only reflected the emergence of new forms of historical consciousness geared toward the needs of a modern world, they have also been a crucial field for contestation over social identity, community and belonging. The aim of this volume is to reconsider how, why and in what form these diverse conservation practices emerged, developed and interrelated in global perspective.

For the first time, this collection brings together scholars working not only on Europe and its colonial territories but also on Latin America, China, Japan, the Soviet Union and North America to examine the extent to which the various attempts to define, protect and mobilize ancestral pasts were part and parcel of an increasingly global and interconnected approach to heritage and its preservation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It features case studies from around the world in order to discern wider patterns and to follow ideas and practices as they interlinked and circulated.

Together, the contributions tackle a range of overarching issues, including the relationship between war, revolution, imperialism and the growing interest in heritage; the perceived need, even among avowedly revolutionary societies, to integrate elements of the distant past into contemporary life; the role of the state and a modern ‘civilising mission’ in the rise of heritage preservation; how the agents and critics of heritage preservation mapped on to structures of sovereignty and political legitimacy; the role of law, custom and notions of the sacred in shaping heritage management; and finally, how changing technologies and cultural practices influence what was or was not preserved and venerated.

Deliberately building on previous work on the ‘nationalization’ of ancestral pasts, Heritage in the Modern World offers a new perspective by focusing on the increasing ‘internationalization’ of heritage and the ways in which local and universal layers of preservation overlapped and interacted.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages384
VolumePast & Present Supplement 10
ISBN (Print)9780198733584
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


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