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Sense and Essence: Heritage and the Cultural Production of the Real

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Volume 9

Material Mediations: People and Things in a World of Movement

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Sense and Essence

Heritage and the Cultural Production of the Real

Edited by Birgit Meyer and Mattijs van de Port

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350 pages, 46 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-939-4 25% OFF! $130.00/£92.00 $97.50/£69.00 Hb Published (July 2018)

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“Considering that we all know the world we live in is a ‘construct’, how are we convinced to accept it as real and act accordingly? And how is heritage, which is always a social construct, made real through aesthetics of persuasion and politics of authenticity? By addressing these questions in richly varied ethnographic case studies, this volume not only makes a significant contribution to an issue that is of wider interest to the social sciences, it also makes heritage studies as a field highly relevant to the social sciences.” • Ferdinand de Jong, University of East Anglia


Contrary to popular perceptions, cultural heritage is not given, but constantly in the making: a construction subject to dynamic processes of (re)inventing culture within particular social formations and bound to particular forms of mediation. Yet the appeal of cultural heritage often rests on its denial of being a fabrication, its promise to provide an essential ground to social-cultural identities. Taking this paradoxical feature as a point of departure, and anchoring the discussion to two heuristic concepts—the "politics of authentication" and "aesthetics of persuasion"—the chapters herein explore how this tension is central to the dynamics of heritage formation worldwide.

Birgit Meyer is Professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University. She is co-editor of Material Religion. Her recent publications include Aesthetic Formations: Religion, Media and the Senses (ed., Palgrave 2009), Things: Religion and the Question of Materiality (ed. with Dick Houtman, Fordham 2012), Sensational Movies: Video Vision and Christianity in Ghana (University of California Press, 2015), and Creativity in Transition: Politics and Aesthetics of Cultural Production Across the Globe (ed. with Maruška Svašek, Berghahn, 2016).

Mattijs van de Port is Professor of Popular Religiosity at VU University Amsterdam and Associate Professor in the anthropology department of the University of Amsterdam. His publications include the monographs Gypsies, Wars and Other Instances of the Wild: Civilization and its Discontents in a Serbian Town (Amsterdam University Press, 1998) and Ecstatic Encounters: Bahian Candomblé and the Quest for the Really Real (Amsterdam University Press, 2011).

Subject: General Anthropology General Cultural Studies Museum Studies


List of Figures

Introduction: Heritage Dynamics: Politics of Authentication, Aesthetics of Persuasion and the Cultural Production of the Real
Mattijs van de Port & Birgit Meyer

Chapter 1. 
Aesthetics as Form and Force: Notes on the Shaping of Pataxó Indian Bodies
André Werneck de Andrade Bakker

Chapter 2. Intangible Heritage, Tangible Controversies: The Baiana and the Acarajé as Boundary Objects in Contemporary Brazil
Bruno Reinhardt

Chapter 3. Swinging between the Material and the Immaterial: Brazilian Cultural Politics and the Authentication of Afro-Brazilian Heritage
Maria Paula Fernandes Adinolfi

Chapter 4. 'Reporting the Past': News History and the Formation of the Sunday Times Heritage Project
Duane Jethro

Chapter 5. Scaffolding Heritage: Transient Architectures and Temporalizing Formations in Luanda
Ruy Llera Blanes

Chapter 6. Corpo-Reality TV: Media, Body, and the Authentication of ‘African Heritage’
Marleen de Witte

Chapter 7. Heated Discussions Are Necessary. The Creative Engagement with Sankofa in Modern Ghanaian Art
Rhoda Woets

Chapter 8. Iconic Objects: Making Diasporic Heritage, Blackness and Whiteness in the Netherlands
Markus Balkenhol

Chapter 9. Ascertaining the Future Memory of Our Time: Dutch Institutions Collecting Relics of National Tragedy
Irene Stengs

Concluding Comments

Chapter 10. Heritage Under Construction: Boundary Objects, Scaffolding and Anticipation
David Chidester

Chapter 11. Can Anything Become Heritage?
David Berliner

Chapter 12. Heritage as Process
Ciraj Rassool


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