Angela M. Labrador and Neil Asher Silberman
The field of cultural heritage is no longer solely dependent on the expertise of art and architectural historians, archaeologists, conservators, curators, and site and museum administrators. It has dramatically expanded across disciplinary boundaries and social contexts and now includes vernacular architecture, intangible cultural practices, knowledge, and language, performances, and rituals, as well as cultural landscapes. Heritage has become entangled with the broader social, political, and economic contexts in which heritage is created, managed, transmitted, protected, or destroyed. Heritage protection now encompasses a growing set of methodological approaches whose objectives are not necessarily focused upon the maintenance of material fabric, traditionally cultural heritage’s primary concern. Rather, these objectives have become explicitly social with methods foregrounding public engagement, diverse values, and community-based action. Thus, we introduce the term “public heritage” as a way of bringing together these emerging practices. This handbook charts major sites of convergence between the humanities and the social sciences—where new disciplinary perspectives are being brought to bear on public heritage. This introduction outlines the potential contributions of development studies, political science, anthropology, management studies, human geography, ecology, psychology, sociology, cognitive studies, and education to the field of public heritage.