Cultures, Communities, Identities: Cultural Strategies for Participation and Empowerment

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Whose history shall be remembered and whose forgotten? What image of social life shall be projected and which shall be marginalised? Who is representing whom, and on what basis? This is the realm of cultural politics. Populism It is worthy of note that the advocacy of a broadening of cultural policy to include hitherto excluded narratives is often explicitly presented as antielitist. As well as the growth of such populist sentiments, boundaries between high and mass culture have become blurred Urry, Walsh argues that such museums can engage visitors in a way other museums may not, through relating to the lived experiences of their ancestors in their daily lives Walsh, Postmodernism Another way of viewing the shift from liberal humanism to greater cultural diversity is to consider the influence of the postmodern con- dition on both the tourist and the policy-making organisations.

Further, he argues that by decentring the liberal humanist discourse of modernism in this way, hitherto marginal groups can occupy centre stage, and engage in a more democratic social dialogue Harvey, Such sentiments fuel attempts by policy makers to reflect a wider diversity of social experience through cultural attractions.

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Some have argued that a celebration of diversity in the cultural sphere can translate into a decline of standards through the view that all cultural forms are relative, and can only be judged in their own, culturally specific, terms. If we reject humanism in favour of such relativism then how can culture transcend difference and aspire to reflect universal themes? The tension between a conception of universal human culture, and the more relativistic direction favoured by many critical cultural policy makers, is an important axis around which cultural policy is disputed.

This issue has been well expressed by cultural critic Kenan Malik. Yet far from tackling inequality, this process reproduces it in a new, cultural form, by defining people by their differences and denying the idea of human progress Malik, For example, in the British Museum in London, the Rosetta Stone is surely a historical artefact with universal significance, with great import for all humanity, regardless of the perceived demands of the people, or the perceived needs of different communities and cultures.

Further, the museum itself is valued for its role as a repository of artefacts reflecting human culture and history, not particular cultures or histories. In this vein, cultural critic Clare Fox argues, with reference to the British context, that cultural populism in the arts is often a self-conscious and patronising attempt to create social connectedness that singularly fails to challenge or inspire Fox, And is liberal humanism necessarily at odds with the trend towards pluralism and populism? A middle ground has been considered by Miller and Yudice and recently by the former Head of the British Museum Robert Anderson , one that can combine the sense of aesthetic standards and universal significance, whilst also accepting the efficacy of populist socially inclusive?

Anderson asserts that it is important to maintain culture that is not historically contingent in places such as the British Museum, whilst accepting a more populist approach elsewhere.

Hence perhaps the issue is less the variety of different types of cultural attraction, and more the conflation of the mission of the museum with that of the theme park Swarbrooke, or with the objectives traditionally assigned to social policy Appleton, Case: The UK and social inclusion The UK is striking for the extent to which cultural policy has become influenced by populism and the aim of addressing the claims of hitherto excluded sections of the community. The erstwhile boundaries between cultural policy and social policy have been significantly eroded, and cultural attractions are deemed to have a direct role in tackling social problems.

Their funding is often linked to addressing these wider, social goals. Conclusion Wider ideological trends have shaped the cultural tourism sector as they inform many of the debates about heritage sites, galleries, museums and so forth that comprise cultural tourism attractions. Cultural policy, developed through liberal humanism, has tended to adapt to criticisms that it has excluded alternative narratives and is elitist.

A cultural attractions sector that to a greater extent reflects cultural diversity and cultural populism has emerged in the light of this. Criticisms of these trends can take the form of a conservative desire to preserve the exclusivity of high culture. Yet equally they can represent a humanist desire to uphold the universal value of great art, scientific advance and an understanding of human history, regardless of the origin of the artefact or the audience.

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The following chapters in this section consider further a number of themes on cultural tourism politics and policy. References Anderson, R. Appleton ed. Museums For the People: Conversations in Print pp. London: Institute of Ideas. Appleton, J.

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A new approach to conservation: using community empowerment for sustainable well-being

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