The Dynamics of Heritage
Laurence Gouriévidis, Ashgate, 2010.

The Dynamics of Heritage

The Dynamics of Heritage History, Memory and the Highland Clearances

There has been much academic interest in the role of museums as places where understanding of the past is shaped and legitimised for a wide and increasingly diverse public. This book focuses on the museum representations of the Highland Clearances - a much neglected aspect of one of the most disputed and politically-charged issues in modern Scottish history. Drawing together a range of inter-disciplinary themes and notions, it considers the cultural legacy of the period, brings to light the socially and historically conditioned meanings and values encapsulated in museum narratives of the Clearances, and shows the significance of collective memory in the negotiations inherent in heritage work. Examining both national and local museums in Scotland and concluding with comparisons with Australian museums of migration, Dynamics of Heritage contributes to our understanding of the processes of heritage construction, and its relationship to issues of memory and other modes of engagement with the past.

Laurence Gouriévidis has provided a brilliant study of the Highland Clearances as interpreted by museums. She shows how complex are the motives for memorialisation, how difficult the achievement, and how ambiguous the notions of ’heritage’ or, indeed, of dispassionate history. It is a welcome breath of fresh air in Scottish historical and cultural studies. Chris Smout, University of St Andrews, UK

With sustained interest in the history of the Clearances comes responsibility for their interpretation and (re)presentation. Drawing on a wide range of local museums as sites of interpretation, and elegantly blending insight from literature, museology, heritage studies and historical scholarship, Laurie Gouriévidis convincingly demonstrates the potency of the past and the power of collective memory in shaping present and future meanings around notions of land, home, belonging and identity. Charles W. J. Withers, University of Edinburgh, UK