BA Archaeology and History / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
From Sites to Statues: Understanding Heritage in a time of Culture Wars

Course unit fact file
Unit code CAHE24602
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History, Archaeology & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

This module explores the different ways in which the past is produced and reproduced in the present, and thus is highly politicised. By critically examining the notion of heritage itself, this course examines both how the past lies at the heart of the sense of identity of many cultures and the stories cultures tell about themselves. With case studies drawn from across the world, it will explore how the texts, ideas, objects and sites of earlier cultures are appropriated and employed by later cultures. It explores (for example) the tourism which thrives around ancient sites and finds, how past sites can create a strong sense of place and belonging, but also how heritage can also be contentious. The material culture, texts, stories and ideas of the past can be used in conflicting ways to promote different interests. The course also examines the recent phenomenon of heritage destruction and iconoclasm, seeking to understand why some cultures can view archaeological monuments as idolatrous. Heritage at a global level has never been more contested or under threat from this and other pressures: building and infrastructure development, climate change, and widespread looting to feed a thriving antiquities trade. This course is ideal for anyone thinking of a career in heritage, museums or galleries, or those ambitious about working for government institutions/non-government organisations in the UK or abroad; it is also ideal for those wanting to understand the ways in which the past is deployed in modern political and cultural discourses. It will familiarise students with planning legislation, monument protection and conservation practice, both in the UK and through bodies such as the World Heritage Organisation, whilst at the same time critically analysing how heritage value is understood and reproduced within these “authorised” frameworks. The opportunity to contextualise this within real world practice is provided in the course

assessment where students will critically analyse the agendas at play within a museum or a museum display. Further, through assessed group seminars, students will critically debate a number of contentious heritage issues such as calls for the repatriation of cultural remains (e.g. Parthenon Marbles or Benin bronzes), as well as the display or reburial of pre-Christian human remains, questions of authenticity, tangible and intangible heritage, the ‘dark’ heritage of sites of trauma and remembrance, and battlefield/conflict archaeology.

 

Aims

  1. To enhance understanding of the historical, social, cultural and political contexts of the use of heritage (Lectures, Seminars);
  2. To enhance understanding of the historical, social cultural and political contexts of the reception of the texts, ideas and cultures of classical Greece and Rome and ancient Egypt (Lectures, Seminars);
  3. To raise awareness of the contested and contentious nature of heritage & reception in a global setting (Lectures, Seminars);
  4. To develop skills in martialling and critically appraising contrastive arguments on heritage and reception (Seminars, Lectures, Exam);
  5. To improve knowledge of the legislation, policy and ‘best practice’ guidance relating to sites, monuments and finds, in both the UK and at an international level (Lectures, seminars);
  6. To develop skills of working as part of a research team, and communicating effectively in both written and oral formats (Seminars and Hand-out).

 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe and illustrate the range of sites, objects, monuments, traditions, knowledge, practices and performances which can be classed as examples of heritage (tangible and intangible) and show how they are deployed by different communities to gain a sense of identity (Lectures, Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip);
  • Show an understanding of the main ways in which the texts, ideas and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and ancient Egypt are received and made use of in a variety of contexts, (Lectures, Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip)
  • Show an awareness of the national and international legislation/guidance relating to heritage protection (Lectures, Seminars), and describe how and why it has changed over time (Seminars, Exam);
  • Understand and articulate threats to archaeological and cultural heritage, e.g. environmental, cultural, economic, political (Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip);
  • Critically discuss the range of different interest groups and claimants using heritage assets (public and professional), including those of the classical world and ancient Egypt, and evaluate issues relating to ownership, responsibility towards its future conservation, perceived significance and cultural/economic potential (Lectures, Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip);
  • Articulate examples of contentious heritage and problematic reception, and discuss real-world based solutions or resolutions to these dilemmas (Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip).

Intellectual skills

  • Think critically about the role of heritage in identity-making (personal, community, nation-state, ethnic or other interest groups) (Lectures, Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip);
  • Express contrastive views over heritage issues and ethics and reception, using a range of primary and secondary literature (Seminars, Exam);
  • Critically evaluate competing claims to heritage and propose ways in which disputes over the past could be mediated (Seminars, Exam);
  • Critically examine the reception of different aspects of classical antiquity and ancient Egypt (Lectures, Seminars, Exam, Fieldtrip)

 

Practical skills

  • Utilise a range of primary and secondary archaeological and heritage literature, and work on the theory and practice of reception, to support critical arguments about the use of the past (Seminars, Exam).

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Present contrastive view in a balanced manner, and offer critical evaluations of contentious/conflicting uses or interpretations of the past (Seminars, Exam);
  • Work effectively as part of a team, demonstrating leadership or responsibility for a particular aspect of both research and oral presentation (Seminars);
  • Demonstrate an ability to both propose views, evaluate others’ arguments and mediate dispute (Seminars);
  • Reflect upon and respond to critical feedback (Seminars).

 

Assessment methods

Group presentation planning session  0%
Group Presentation  25%
Presentation reflection 25%
Exam 50%

 

Feedback methods

Written feedback

Summative:  Summative: Group-led Asynchronous Seminar feedback (for VoiceThread AND for individual write up)

 

 

Oral feedback

Formative: Group-led Assessed Seminar – joint feedback from planning session with module director

 

Recommended reading

· Cobb, H., and Croucher, K. 2020. Assembling Archaeology: Teaching, Practice and Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

· Fairclough, G., Harrison, R., Scofield, J. and J.H. Jameson (Jnr). 2007. The Heritage Reader. London, Routledge.

· Harrison, R. (ed) 2010 Understanding the politics of heritage. Manchester: University of Manchester Press.

· Harrison, R., 2012. Heritage: critical approaches. Routledge.

· Hicks, D. 2020. The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution. London: Pluto Press.

· Janes, R.R. and Sandell, R., 2019. Museum activism. London: Routledge.

· Lucas, G. 2001. Critical Approaches to Fieldwork. London, Routledge.

· Lucas, G. 2012. Understanding the Archaeological Record. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

· Schofield, J., Carman, J. & Belford, P. (eds.) 2012. Archaeological Practice in Great Britain: A Heritage Handbook. New York: Springer Verlag.

· Smith, L. 2006. The Uses of Heritage. London, Routledge.

· Smith, L. and Watson, E. 2009. Heritage, Communities and Archaeology. (Duckworth Debates in Archaeology). London, Gerald Duckworth and Co.Ltd.

· Smith, L., Wetherell, M. and Campbell, G. eds., 2018. Emotion, affective practices, and the past in the present. Routledge.

· Staiff, R., Bushell, R. and Watson, S. eds., 2013. Heritage and tourism: Place, encounter, engagement. Routledge.

· West, S. (ed) 2010. Understanding heritage in practice. Manchester: University of Manchester Press.

 

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicky Nielsen Unit coordinator
Stuart Campbell Unit coordinator
Ina Berg Unit coordinator
Hannah Cobb Unit coordinator
Melanie Giles Unit coordinator

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