UBC Theses and Dissertations
Recovering evicted memories : an exploration of heritage policies, intangible heritage, and storytelling in Vancouver, BC Leung, Diana E.
In 2003, UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to officially recognize the value of non-physical heritage. Previously, established conservation standards focused on physical heritage, namely historic architecture, which generally reflected the values of western societies but did not necessarily accommodate other forms of cultural heritage. The adoption of the Convention signified a shift towards a more inclusive approach. My thesis grounds this international discussion in a locality by examining conservation issues and practices in Vancouver, British Columbia. My thesis contains two key findings: (1) Echoing international criticism of established conservation standards, Vancouver’s heritage conservation policies tend to systemically favour aesthetically significant and structurally robust architecture. As a result, certain histories without existing architecture become obsolete, leaving a selective history in Vancouver’s everyday landscape. (2) At the same time, Vancouver has also hosted a number of community history projects. These recent projects have been able to recover fading memories of this landscape through storytelling, a form of intangible heritage, and to reconnect these histories to the locations where they originated (what Pierre Nora (1989) calls milieux de mémoire). My recommendations include a formal integration of intangible heritage projects with the established heritage conservation program and suggest opportunities to achieve this integration. These recommendations hope to encourage a more inclusive approach that recognizes a place’s history contains diverse, coexisting and overlapping narratives, and acknowledges the parts of this history that may be damaged by forces of gentrification, urban renewal and colonization. By approaching the city’s landscape as a palimpsest, inclusive heritage conservation practice can make Vancouver more than a site of residence with aesthetic character, but a place that owns its past.
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