To What Extent Is Negative Heritage a Benefit to Society?

Topics: Cultural heritage, Auschwitz concentration camp, World Heritage Site Pages: 8 (2343 words) Published: November 10, 2012
To What Extent is Negative Heritage a Benefit to Society?

1. Introduction------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2 2. Background------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3 3. Arguments--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 3.1 Drawbacks------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 3.2 Brief evaluation of drawbacks--------------------------------------------------------6 3.3 First benefit -----------------------------------------------------------------------------7 3.4 Brief evaluation of the first benefit --------------------------------------------------8 3.5 Second benefit---------------------------------------------------------------------------8 3.6 Brief evaluation of the second benefit------------------------------------------------9 4. General evaluation------------------------------------------------------------------------10 5 Conclusion----------------------------------------------------------------------------------11 Reference List---------------------------------------------------------------------------------12

1. Introduction

Cultural heritage, including monuments, groups of buildings and sites, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science (UNESCO 1972), is inherited from past generations, maintained in the contemporary era and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. While seemingly uncontroversial and due to its significant position and profoundly influential value, human beings are exploring ancient civilization and preserving cultural heritage. However, we should recognize that not all heritage represent a positive memory, the uncritical interpretation of heritage is to omit negative factors of the past. In order to distinguish heritage more thoroughly, we use the term “negative heritage” which is defined as ‘sites that may be interpreted by a group as commemorating conflict, trauma and disaster’ (Rico 2010, p. 345). More specifically, Meskell deems that negative heritage is a conflicting site that becomes the repository of negative memory in the collective imaginary (Meskell 2002, p. 558). Unlike other heritage which can win widespread appreciation and permanent admiration, negative heritage refers to death, wars, religious conflicts and culture clashes. Controversies of negative heritage are often more salient than its values. This essay critically discusses to what degree negative heritage impacts society positively. First, the background of negative heritage will be demonstrated via introducing a famous example of negative heritage, then the reasons why negative heritage has a beneficial impact on society will be explored by analysing an example, finally arguments will be summarised and a conclusion will be given.
2. Background

The amount of negative heritage is large, since the history of human beings is also the history of their conflict. It is wide spread in every country, for example The World Trade Centre site, which was built on the original site after being destroyed in the September by terrorists. It has now become a contemporary negative heritage which will be reminiscent of intentional destruction, political issues and death. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the site which recorded wars weapons of mass destruction and identified as a permanent witness to the disaster that occurred when the atomic bomb was used as a weapon for the first time in the history of mankind against Japan (ICOMOS 1996). Obviously, negative heritage is generally associated with a significant historical event, which conveys great significance and influence. A site which witnessed one of the biggest disasters of humans is the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

Auschwitz was a small town with charming castles admired by visitors. However, it was...
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