The Past is Political: Race, Cultural Landscapes, and the Case for Community-Driven Heritage in Selma and South Africa

dc.contributor.advisor West, Carroll en_US Gautreau, Abigail Rose en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Graham, Stacey en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Hoffschwelle, Mary en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Sayward, Amy en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Tesi, Moses en_US
dc.contributor.department History en_US 2015-06-12T19:03:27Z 2015-06-12T19:03:27Z 2015-08-01 en_US
dc.description.abstract The process of preserving and interpreting cultural heritage is inherently political. Cultural heritage has the power to legitimize the present by grounding it in the physical remnants of the past. This is most obvious when examining the destruction of heritage, whether through casual neglect or deliberate violence. The heritage most often at risk is that which challenges the values and narrative of the dominant culture. The process of preserving cultural heritage requires public historians and heritage professionals to negotiate these competing narratives and ideas, yet these practitioners are themselves influenced by the cultural context in which they live. In the United States, most public historians and preservationists are white in a cultural context that works to render their whiteness both normal and invisible. Public historians and heritage professionals must acknowledge and accept their own personal biases if they are to effectively preserve heritage that reflects the experiences of people of color and marginalized communities. en_US
dc.description.abstract This dissertation argues that rather than focusing on the outcomes of projects, public historians and heritage professionals ought to prioritize the process of preserving and interpreting heritage, which means creating true partnerships that allow communities to drive the work forward. The role of the professional is temporary in nature, and in order for a project to succeed in the long term (achieve cultural success), the community must be prepared to take over and advocate for the project. Engaging communities requires public historians to cede control, but this process can yield interpretation and material that is rich and rewarding both to scholars and outside audiences. en_US
dc.description.abstract These challenges are not unique to any particular country, but this dissertation explores them using case studies based on fieldwork in Selma, Alabama and Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. This research examines the challenges of doing heritage in places coping with the legacy and history of a long period of racialization and race-based discrimination. en_US Ph.D. en_US
dc.publisher Middle Tennessee State University en_US
dc.subject Apartheid en_US
dc.subject Civil rights en_US
dc.subject Community en_US
dc.subject Cultural heritage en_US
dc.subject Historic preservation en_US
dc.subject Public history en_US
dc.subject.umi History en_US
dc.subject.umi South African studies en_US
dc.subject.umi African American studies en_US
dc.thesis.degreegrantor Middle Tennessee State University en_US
dc.thesis.degreelevel Doctoral en_US
dc.title The Past is Political: Race, Cultural Landscapes, and the Case for Community-Driven Heritage in Selma and South Africa en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US
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