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Heritage as an Element of the Scenescape

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses a new approach to the study of urban place, “the scenes approach.” While this approach is not exclusively applicable to cities, this chapter is focused on urban areas. Businesses and institutions, people and practices join to produce areas with distinct aesthetics—hip, edgy, refined, glamorous, etc. These qualities make it possible to move about a city as if it were a scenic route, to discover the styles of life each has to offer. This chapter is intended as a first effort to extend scenes thinking to historic preservation and public heritage practice (and vice versa) and we invite critical dialogue and collaboration.

Keywords: historic preservation, scenes approach, cultural heritage, urban, built environment, practice

Scenescapes (Silver and Clark 2016) advanced a general approach to culture and place, the “scenes approach.” A central thrust is to conceptualize environment and action scenically. We often speak of nature in such terms: in taking the scenic route, we linger on the sights and sounds along the way. The view of a mountain or sunset is a distinctly aesthetic phenomenon.

The scenes approach extends this perspective to social life and the built environment. This has great relevance to cultural heritage protection, management, and promotion. It points to not just one heritage structure like a house in isolation, but stresses how the house is part of a scene surrounding it. “Neighborhood” or “place” are classic labels here, but the scenes approach adds more specificity. We build on hundreds of components that distinguish neighborhoods. Businesses and institutions (e.g. tattoo parlors, churches, restaurants), people (e.g. artists, old-timers), practices (e.g. worshiping, conversing, performing) join to produce areas with distinct aesthetics—hip, edgy, refined, glamorous, rustic, charming, and the like. These aesthetic qualities make it possible to move about a city scenically, taking the scenic route to discover the styles of life each has to offer.

Far from denying the relevance of economic and political concerns, the scenes approach suggests mutual feedback-feedforward processes. Local scenes can be targets of economic development proposals and focal points of economic activity. They can draw the politically like-minded together, and become intense objects of political controversy, for and against. They shape neighborhoods and cities by attracting and sustaining residents; yet they evolve as tastes change.

Scenescapes elaborates and illustrates these claims in detail, in conversation with the relevant social science components of economic growth, residential communities, and politics. Despite its apparent relevance, we have not previously examined heritage (p. 310) seriously as an element of the scenescape. Heritage clearly helps define the character of a scene, and heritage designations are clearly efforts to intervene on and regulate the scenery of life, with consequences for the overall scenes that coalesce around them.

The main reasons for this oversight are threefold: time, disciplinary blinders, and limited expertise. We are thus extremely grateful to the editors for giving us the opportunity to think through how to approach heritage from a scenes perspective and in an inter-disciplinary context. The three of us have collaborated for over a year on exploring ways to join scenes themes with heritage more concretely. This chapter is a first report.

Nevertheless, this chapter should be read as a provisional experiment: a first effort to extend scenes thinking to heritage (and vice versa) that we offer as an invitation for critical dialogue and collaboration. While we believe many of these insights extend to rural and even wilderness areas, here we highlight more urban contexts. In this way we build on and extend the important recent effort of Ryberg-Webster and Kinahan (2014) to build bridges between heritage and urban research.

We proceed in three major sections. First, we articulate some general ideas that inform scenes thinking. Second, we speculate how these ideas may be relevant for understanding heritage. Third, we discuss some potential lines of analysis for studying heritage as part of a scenescape. We often refer to other work that elaborates these ideas.

Scenes Thinking: Some General Ideas

What are some key ideas of scenes thinking in general? These are not comprehensive, but to give a general flavor. More detail is in Silver and Clark (2016) and available online (<http://scenescapes.weebly.com>). Four key principles are holism, multi-dimensionality, context, and feedback.

Holism

Consider John Dewey’s description of various ways of experiencing New York City from a ferry (Dewey 1934: 141). Some regard the ferry as a “trip to get them where they want to be.” Others let their “thoughts roam to the congestion of a great industrial and commercial center” and draw conclusions about “the chaos of a society organized on the basis of conflict rather than cooperation.” Still others approach the city “esthetically, as a painter might . . . The scene formed by the buildings may be looked at as colored and lighted volumes in relation to one another, to the sky and the river.” Encountered in this manner, the scene presents itself as a “perceptual whole, constituted by related parts. No one single figure, aspect, or quality is picked out as a means to some further external result which is desired, nor as a sign of an inference.”

Dewey nicely captures the holistic nature of scenes thinking. To perceive the situation as a scene involves taking it up as a painter or poet might. Whether an ensemble of (p. 311) buildings is a consistent, restrained Classical Revival row of townhouses in New York or a more riotous block of rambling Queen Anne houses in Chicago helps define distinctive aesthetic environments in each place. The built environment is a key part of the ensemble, whether it is the glass and steel skyscrapers or “huge, communal edifices of stone and adobe” of the Indian pueblos of Taos, New Mexico (Morrison 1952). The buildings and their history create a specific tangible envelope in which particular “scenes” happen.

We approach buildings, people, and practices not atomistically but in how they interface with one another to support qualities of experience that pervade the situation. Skyscrapers, power lunches, busy suited executives, and flashing stock tickers join to fill downtowns with a distinct energy, urgency, ambition, and power. Tree-lined streets, neatly cut grass, colorful playgrounds, and children’s laughter produce a different atmosphere, a Disney Heaven of safety, neighborliness, and parental warmth. Whether as dreams for some and nightmares for others, no single component alone defines the qualities that suffuse a scene.

Multi-dimensionality

If scenes are suffused by holistic qualities, they are nevertheless complex wholes. A classic example is bohemia. The term “bohemia” denotes an overall style of experience that pervades certain areas, for instance mid-nineteenth-century Montmartre, early twentieth-century Greenwich Village, or late twentieth-century Wicker Park. Yet this overall bohemian ambiance can be more precisely described as a complex mix of multiple dimensions: a transgressive style of appearance; a valorization of personal self-expression; a fascination with the marginal.1 These contrast and often conflict with the legitimacy of such competing values as tradition and efficiency, and the authenticity of reason.

The scenes perspective takes these sorts of insights and expands them into a more general matrix for specifying the distinct character of a scene as a complex of multiple dimensions. We organize this matrix into three major dimensions: theatricality, authenticity, and legitimacy. Each highlights a form of qualitative experience a scene can evoke, which in turn manifests in specific ways. Theatricality highlights styles of appearance—ways of seeing and being seen, for instance—glamorously, transgressively, or exhibitionistically. Authenticity highlights sources of identity a scene may evince (or attack)—ways of being genuine or phony, for instance, local, ethnic, or corporate authenticity. Legitimacy features normative authorities for action a scene may valorize (or resist)—such as tradition, utilitarian efficiency, the charismatic individual, or personal spontaneity.

Tables 4.3.1 and 4.3.2 summarize the dimensions of theatricality, authenticity, and legitimacy we use to specify the character of scenes. These dimensions are not exhaustive. But they do provide a fruitfully generative matrix in which any specific scene can be located and compared to many others in terms of the mix of qualities they evoke. The larger point is that there is no single quality that defines all scenes, and that all qualities must be qualified: there is no “authenticity” in itself, only specific forms, which combine and clash in various ways. (p. 312)

Table 4.3.1. Analytical Components of Scenes I: Theatricality, Authenticity, Legitimacy.

Theatricality

Authenticity

Legitimacy

Mutual self-display

Discovering the real thing

Acting on moral bases

Seeing and being seen

Touching ground

Listening to duty

Appropriate vs. Inappropriate

Genuine vs. Phony

Right vs. Wrong

Appearance

Identity

Intentions to act

Performing

Rooting

Evaluating

Table 4.3.2. Analytical Dimensions of Scenes II: Dimensions of Theatricality, Authenticity, and Legitimacy.

Theatricality

Exhibitionistic

Reserved

Glamorous

Ordinary

Neighborly

Distant

Transgressive

Conformist

Formal

Informal

Legitimacy

Traditional

Novel

Charismatic

Routine

Utilitarian

Unproductive

Egalitarian

Particularist

Self-Expressive

Scripted

Authenticity

Local

Global

State

Anti-State

Ethnic

Non-Ethnic

Corporate

Independent

Natural

Artificial

Rational

Irrational

Context

Because scenes are multi-dimensional complexes, their dimensional configurations can vary by context. Consider bohemia once again. While some emphasis on transgression cuts across most bohemias, specific bohemian scenes might emphasize one set of values (p. 313) more than others. In one, resisting corporateness can be paramount; in others, personal creativity or sense of humor can prevail. One recent Twitter post by Ariel Dumas (@ArielDumas, March 21, 2017) captioned “There are no rules anymore,” contrasting the name of a store with its merchandise (Figure 4.3.1), serves as an example. The “same” scene acquires different meanings in different contexts as the dimensional mix shifts.

Sensitivity to context means being attentive to how similar processes unfold in different situations. For example, in Scenescapes we show how “charisma” takes on different meanings in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles scenes (Figure 4.3.2). In the (p. 314) latter two cities, charisma appears more in scenes that highlight personal expression and glamorous self-display: scenes of movie stars and fashion icons. In Chicago scenes, by contrast, charisma is more often joined with a sense of neighborliness and the authority of tradition: the parish priest, the fiery pastor, and the ward boss are more iconic. Thus the distinct flavor of a concrete scene emerges in a dynamic process as specific dimensions (such as charisma, glamor, and self-expression) fuse into context-specific configurations.

Heritage as an Element of the ScenescapeClick to view larger

Figure 4.3.1 Twitter post, captioned “There are no rules anymore.”

Source: Ariel Dumas (@ArielDumas), <https://twitter.com/ArielDumas/status/844336929118310402>.

Heritage as an Element of the ScenescapeClick to view larger

Figure 4.3.2 Pearson correlations of charismatic scenes with five other dimensions of scenes, within New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. These combine data for hundreds of individual amenities like cafes and churches for all US zip codes. Details in Silver and Clark 2016.

These examples illustrate how we use general dimensions like charisma but add more concrete meaning by combining general components in locally distinctive ways. We have implemented these by linking with past histories of specific sites like Greenwich Village, in ethnographic study of one neighborhood like Wicker Park in Chicago, by assembling thousands of indicators for every US zip code and similar units in other countries from Korea to France, Spain, and more. The scenes approach links easily with these multiple methods by pointing to specifics (like tattoo parlors and cafes) that in turn generate the more abstract (like bohemia). The links facilitate comparison and more general interpretation of each building with its unique components. These take on more power by identifying social and political specifics such as patriotism rising or being challenged (as in protest parades of new social movements), or how the legacy of the counterculture persists in some neighborhoods more than others (captured by bohemian indicators like cafes or tattoo parlors that spread from Greenwich Village across thousands of zip codes).

Feedback

Scenes are multi-dimensional complexes that are themselves one dimension of a broader constellation of processes that shape the fate and fortunes of any given place. (p. 315) When we encounter an area scenically, we tune into the experiences it has to offer, and respond with corresponding judgments—delight, aversion, intrigue, indifference, and the like. But this is not the only way to engage with a place: the same place that supports a scene can also be an opportunity for work and investment, a habitat for residence and community, a base for political mobilization and target of political conflict. Each implies corresponding policy decisions that can be subtly inferred from precise data, or made more casually.

Scenic qualities can feed into all of these other processes: in choosing where to live, where to invest, and how to gather political support. Scenescapes organizes diverse evidence for these complex interactions. For instance, we show how scenes that evoke personal self-expression and glamorous theatricality tend to exhibit relatively high levels of economic growth—even controlling for numerous other factors that spark growth. We also show that the local economic impact of technology clusters is enhanced in self-expressive scenes, and that residential patterns follow scene patterns (and as Silver 2017 shows, vice versa) (Figure 4.3.3).

Additionally, through case studies of Toronto and Chicago neighborhoods, we show how participants attempt to channel scenes policies: developers see investment opportunities; politicians and movement activists seek to mobilize support; artists and other scene-makers add excitement and buzz with posters, slogans, websites, and social media—to rechannel money, influence, and power toward different ends. Silver and Clark 2013 elaborates such details of dynamic and conflictual processes flowing through scenes.

These various examples all illustrate how the scenes approach does not seek to replace past interpretative approaches, but complements and extends them by adding holism, multidimensionality, context, and feedback.

Heritage as an Element of the ScenescapeClick to view larger

Figure 4.3.3 Diagram illustrating the interactive approach to scenes analysis in examining how a self-expressive scene enhances the impact of technology clusters on the local economy. This figure illustrates the following: (1) A multicausal approach of joining tech clusters and self-expressive scenes, and various other core variables (e.g. rent, education, race, artist clusters, population, crime rates, party voting), not displayed. The direct effects of both follow two paths, extending from the self-expression and tech cluster boxes, respectively. (2) The third path leads into the circle. It designates the interaction or mediated effect, which occurs when tech clusters combine with self-expressive scenes.

(p. 316) Extending Scenes Thinking to Heritage

This section extends these general principles of thinking scenically to suggestions for how to study heritage as an element of the scenescape.

Holism

The first suggestion is to consider heritage not only “in itself” but rather “for the scene”—in terms of the overall series of experiences of which it is a part. This can mean paying attention to things that might often seem unimportant or inessential to a building considered in isolation, by asking questions such as:

  • What activities do heritage spaces support, within and around them?

  • What sorts of shops or restaurants are nearby?

  • Do they harmonize or clash with one another?

  • What sort of street life animates the surrounding area?

  • Do people tend to mill around out front or enter and exit quickly? By car or on foot?

  • How do traditional natural elements like waterfalls or beaches complement man-made structures?

  • Are directions/signs to find the site, visiting hours, and accommodations like parking, toilets, gas stations, and restaurants accessible so visitors are not inconvenienced by these?

  • How does the heritage of an area impact the experience of other things in the area? For instance, how does the juxtaposition of an early twentieth- century bank façade with a modern glass and steel office building transform the way we encounter both? See Figure 4.3.4 for an example.

Such questions may seem irrelevant when considering heritage spaces atomistically, unto themselves, separate from their surroundings. But from a holistic point of view one understands any entity (person, building, organization, neighborhood, and so on) through its dynamic interface with its environment.

To begin to think more concretely about heritage scenically, consider the matter as a painter might.2 Take a nineteenth- or early twentieth-century building, and consider the many ways you might paint the scene of which it is a part. Imagine a scene in which the historic building is central, and all else orbits around it. Imagine the same scene, but without that building—what would be missing, or transformed? Now put that building at the periphery, and make the hot dog stand or parking lot the centerpiece. Consider the building without its characteristic activities, or with new or different ones. How does the overall scene of which it is a part change? (p. 317)

As you run components and contexts through multiple permutations, each becomes more clearly delineated. The overall qualities of the scene and the specific contribution of the historic fabric emerge more forcefully. These sorts of experiments can be pursued imaginatively or photographically, but also through various statistical and simulation techniques for examining the interaction of object and environment across situations.

Heritage as an Element of the ScenescapeClick to view larger

Figure 4.3.4 Italian American bank (built 1907) as base for 456 Montgomery Plaza, San Francisco, CA.

Photo: Alvis Hendley, NoeHill.

Multi-dimensionality

Recognizing multi-dimensionality helps to elaborate more precisely the many ways that heritage can contribute to a scene. For example, it is common to refer to heritage as producing a sense of authenticity, despite the challenge in elaborating what an unqualified notion of authenticity consists in. Simply qualifying the term gives it more concrete and determinate significance. Does heritage aim to preserve scenes of ethnic or local authenticity against homogeny; a sense of a nation’s distinct identity (p. 318) against global norms; or even the association of a distinct brand with an area’s historic identity?

At the same time, multi-dimensionality can take us beyond narrow adherence to authenticity as the sole source of value heritage might bring to a scene. Multiple interacting values can be at work. For example, preserving a historic façade within a modern building (as at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, shown in Figure 4.3.5) situates the past as part of a fluid process of re-interpretation and sometimes clashing styles.

Those who seek to preserve not simply a building but its “associational and contextual” value as part of a distinctive, counter-cultural music scene (Ross 2017) may even treat transgressiveness as a form of heritage. Other ways may invoke more strict traditionalism: an unchanging scene fixed for all time to preserve a memory.

Heritage may even be invoked in an anti-traditionalist manner. For example, buildings themselves may be treated as possessing minimal distinctive value because they can be reconstructed/rebuilt in a traditional way to match any particular historical era. This is a view attributed by some observers to at least some contemporary Chinese practices, in which the power of the state is paramount (Zhang 2014). By contrast, much American and European practice assumes that both the method of construction and the intellectual philosophy behind it are of value and worthy of preservation. Thus, the emphasis on the aesthetic and philosophical value of architectural style and the maintenance of its integrity is not globally shared. Noting and helping elaborate these (p. 319) disparities in criteria of assessment is a contribution that scenes analysis can add to written or tour-guide comments about a particular historic site. Acknowledging such multiple perspectives helps sidestep conflicts over what is the “correct” historical interpretation, such as of Civil War statues in the US South, Protestant and Catholic sites in Prague or Northern Ireland, or former Soviet landmarks in Eastern Europe. All have experienced forcible removal and restoration of emotionally charged items.

Heritage as an Element of the ScenescapeClick to view larger

Figure 4.3.5 Royal Ontario Museum of Art (Toronto, Canada, built 1914), with the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind (2007).

Photo: Elliot Lewis Photography, 2011.

Beyond the specific examples, one could use the multi-dimensional framework of the scenes perspective to situate various approaches to heritage in a complex continuum of a variety of values.

Context

An implication of the foregoing is that there is no single or universal meaning of “heritage.” What it means to “appeal to heritage” to preserve or create a scene will vary by context. For example, national context may matter: to appeal to “national heritage” in sustaining a scene in the United States is to do so in a distinct context, one that—speaking very broadly—tends to prize the preservation of an original founding moment. By contrast “national heritage” in China may carry quite different implications.

These differences have deep historical roots that define conventions according to which the value of heritage for a scene is upheld. Part of what it means to elaborate the nature of a context is to trace this history. For example, the strong traditionalism in much US heritage thinking grows out of the fact that historic preservation in the United States began as a specifically patriotic, cultural concern. In 1853, Ann Pamela Cunningham founded the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association to protect and preserve the Mansion, grounds, outbuildings, and legacy of George Washington. Today, the Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association remains the owner and operator of this estate, and has pioneered many important historic preservation concepts including the restoration and interpretation of the estate’s outbuildings, relying on scientific analyses to determine paint colors and embracing archaeological research as a primary source for learning about the past (Tomlan 2015: 7–8).

Over time, the emphasis on the founding events of this country exemplified at Mt. Vernon evolved into a more broadly based cultural effort. This philosophy was codified in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which established criteria for recognizing buildings as having aesthetic, historical, or cultural value, which emphasized history, great figures from the past, and styles from distinct periods. These criteria provided an official definition of “ethical heritage practice” in the United States.

Since 1966, the professional field of historic preservation has evolved and its practice has been influenced by other professions and issues. These include legal requirements and economic constraints. Yet the strong emphasis on tradition remains central. On the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), President Obama issued a statement emphasizing the Federal government’s long-standing interest in architectural history, which read in part:

(p. 320)

America’s history is rooted in places—from rolling hills to vast plains to coastlines along the sea—that reflect the diversity of our people and the beliefs that have shaped our Nation. [The NHPA gave] life to the cultural foundations of our country and [enables] our people to gain insights into generations before them. The Act helps Americans serve as stewards of their history and preserve vital places in their communities. In marking this special milestone, we are reminded that though our journey to live up to our highest ideals remains incomplete, we can always look to the lessons of history as we chart our course.

(Obama 2016)

Yet context itself is contextual. For example, “China” and the “United States” are large, multi-faceted entities that cannot be reduced to a single “culture.” Parts of California are in some dimensions more similar to parts of Texas than they are to the rest of California—for instance, the alternative cultural scenes of the Bay Area and Austin. To appeal to the importance of “cultural heritage” in preserving these sorts of scenes may not carry great weight set against a backdrop where “keeping Austin weird” resonates. But elsewhere—perhaps just a hundred miles away—the same appeal may fall flat. Thus, to examine how heritage appeals operate in practice requires situating them both in reference to the scene they seek to sustain and in the context of the local audience to which they are made.

Where and how these boundaries are drawn differs if one respects or rejects the “New West” rewriting of US history, with its stress on Native Americans, race, gender roles, and other themes that emerged as salient in 1970s America. Recognizing the importance of clarifying these criteria, for visitors and professionals, rather than seeking a single “correct” answer, flows naturally from scenic thinking. The Museum of the City of New Orleans has been a model featuring competing interpretations of the past, such as showing letters from visitors in the early nineteenth century who lamented that the main concerns of residents seemed to be horseback riding, dancing, and party conversation, not working, while later items showed city council members being murdered by Klansmen, then retribution from “rootless carpet baggers,” and so forth. Faulkner novels resonate with such conflicting and impassioned themes and counter themes. Indeed, the William Faulkner House in New Orleans has long been staffed by guides who can knowledgably discuss all manner of historical and literary themes, conflicts and counter-interpretations, and visibly enjoy doing so with visitors. Some sites are “Made for Children,” others appeal to different subsets of visitors. Where and how to incorporate such diversity with congeniality and grace is a challenge to all.

Feedback

Attention to feedback provides a major source of analytical leverage for joining scenes, heritage, and other processes that may affect local area development. There are many potential directions to pursue. One could integrate heritage into the interactive models (p. 321) developed in Scenescapes. For instance, we could examine not only whether the presence of heritage buildings sparks economic growth (cf. Mason 2005) or shapes residential patterns and tourism (Nasser 2003), but if and how these shift depending on the scene. Perhaps areas with heritage designations and scenes that prize self-expression or local authenticity attract different groups and spark growth at different rates. Similarly, we have found that individuals who reside in scenes that invoke tradition, local authenticity, and neighborliness are more likely to have conservative political attitudes (Miller and Silver 2015). Does the presence of heritage designations enhance or moderate this connection?

Another way to examine feedback is through studying the interplay of heritage, scenes, and the complex, conflictual, dynamic array of resources, groups, and actors outlined in Silver and Clark 2013 (and ch. 6 of Scenescapes; see also Silver 2013). From this vantage point, “heritage” can be a symbolic tool—sometimes a weapon—wielded in the course of local debates about the character of a place (Ryberg-Webster and Kinahan 2014 review key case studies joining heritage and urban politics, such as Reichl 1997, Newman 2001, and Zhang 2011).

There are multiple analytical questions as to when, who, how, and how successfully this tool is utilized. For example:

  • When and why do some groups seek heritage designation to preserve the character of a scene they value, but others not?Ross 2017 takes an important step in this direction, examining how local activism led some Toronto music venues to receive heritage designation, others not. Pushing this line of research further could involve comparative study of heritage planning documents not only as neutral records but also as outcomes of significant community pressure and input.

  • Which types of scenes are more likely to support successful efforts at heritage advocacy, and how does this vary by context? For example, when the scene is in a residential community or a tourist area, advocated for on the basis of economic value or community benefits, by broad coalitions or narrow interest groups, in a growth or anti-growth political culture?

  • When and why do specific dimensions of scenes become targets of heritage activism, such as maintaining local authenticity, a spirit of transgression, an ethnic culture, a creative sensibility, or any other scene dimension? Comparative case studies of local political controversies over heritage designation could examine when, and why various groups appeal to the value of heritage for a scene in general, but also for sustaining specific scenic qualities.

There have been many case studies produced by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, state and local preservation organizations and major media publications, and scholars; these present opportunities for creative further research. The scenes perspective provides neither answers nor advocacy for these and similar questions, but it offers a language and analytical framework to pursue them more deeply and more subtly.

(p. 322) These are likely additions for future agendas as citizens the world over are better educated and seek more complex, engaging, and challenging experiences as they visit historic sites.

Integrating Heritage into Scenes Research, and Vice Versa: Methods and Data

Pursuing these suggestions in detail is a large and challenging project. Many methods and data sources are possible, traditional and novel.

Traditional methods such as ethnographic case studies, archival research, interviews, and surveys are extremely important for pursuing linkages between scenes and heritage. Adopting a scenes approach simply focuses attention to perhaps understudied aspects. The multi-dimensional framework can clue the analysis in to issues that go beyond generic “authenticity” or “associational context,” and help elaborate the more specific values heritage activists might seek to preserve. It can also be used to identify and sidestep conflicts among visitors or sponsors with competing agendas.

Other promising approaches utilize “big data.” When and why do some groups seek heritage designation to preserve the character of a scene they value, but others not? Much of our quantitative research on scenes builds scenes metrics from digital directories that provide localized information about hundreds of organizational types, such as tattoo parlors, art galleries, restaurants, churches, and more. Merging these metrics with National Register and local heritage inventories, as well as interviews and local histories, provides an exciting opportunity to study interaction of scene and heritage across contexts. We have merged some of these data and can share parts of them with others. Social media data from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram provide comments on specific sites and what types of photos visitors took. These provide insight into the varieties of “buzz” that various heritage sites generate, and how these shift across scenes. New visual pattern recognition techniques can discern the visual styles of the buildings and street life of scenes, which may or may not include designated historic districts. Programs now can code street façades from a dozen or more cities more precisely than most human experts.

But these are complex and ambitious. Readers sensitive to heritage can simply add some core concepts about scenes thinking introduced in this chapter in revisiting a favorite site and seeking to enrich the site for oneself and others by digging a bit more deeply into how it works as a part of a heritage scene. Give it a try: consider leading three tours with three sets of highly disparate visitors and consider how to engage each of them at the same site.

(p. 323) Conclusion

The main goal of this brief chapter has been to articulate some general suggestions for integrating heritage into scenes thinking and to illustrate the sorts of analytical questions this synthesis helps pose. Scenes thinking is holistic, multi-dimensional, contextual, and sensitive to multiple feedback processes. Extending these principles to the study of heritage offers exciting and challenging opportunities to pose new questions and to question familiar answers.

References

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                                  Notes:

                                  (1.) Scenescapes (ch. 2) elaborates this analysis, grounded in literary and sociological descriptions of bohemian life.

                                  (2.) Rudolf Arnheim (1969: 45) describes this attitude well: “The changing appearance of a landscape or building in the morning, the evening, under electric light, with different weather and in different seasons offers two advantages. It presents an extraordinary richness of sight, and it tests the nature of the object by exposing it to varying conditions. A person perceived as the dominant figure in his home, surrounded by subordinate furniture, offers an aspect of the human kind quite different form the small creatures crawling at the bottom of a city street.”