Who decides which stories about a city are remembered? How do interpretations of the past shape a city’s present and future? Using local, national and international perspectives on the meanings and uses of heritage cities, The Politics of Memory: Urban Cultural Heritage in Brazil explores how a site can turn into a mummification of the past, lifelessly displaying long-gone splendour, or a living, breathing treasure offering dynamic cultural and educational opportunities. This book presents multiple and competing views, needs and desires amongst the different people who use a city, alongside notions of power, national identity, race and class in heritage settings. Discussing the case of UNESCO World Heritage town Ouro Preto in Brazil, Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos asks how and why democratic participation in heritage fails or succeeds, and how preserved historic cities interpret, resist, and consent to the functions and meanings that they have inherited and that they reinvent for themselves.
List of Graphs, Images, Maps and Tables
Chapter 1 - Expressing the nation through planning and architecture: Locating national memories
Chapter 2 - Fault lines in a fragmented city
Chapter 3 - Sightseeing the city
Chapter 4 - Opportunities for participation in the governance of cultural heritage
Chapter 5 - Infrastructure in Heritage Sites
Chapter 6 - Preservation or mummification in Miguel Burnier
Andreza Aruska de Souza Santos is the Director of the Brazilian Studies Programme and Departmental Lecturer at the Latin American Centre, University of Oxford. Her work focuses on urban ethnography, incorporating themes of cultural heritage, participatory city planning, and mining economies. Before arriving in Oxford, Andreza completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews; a Masters in Social Sciences at the University of Freiburg, University of KwaZulu Natal and Jawaharlal Nehru University; and her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Brasilia.
This book’s sustained focus on tensions between governance/management structures and community rights/participation in the definition and use of urban space and heritage in Ouro Preto speaks to current concerns in heritage studies and urban development. The close-grained ethnographic and historically grounded studies are immensely useful in adding real-world critiques to the burgeoning heritage and urban development policy context of not only national, but also international agents, such as UNESCO.
By placing questions of national identity, power, and politics at the center of an investigation into urban memory, cultural heritage, and legacies of social injustice in Brazil, this book provides an important contribution to contemporary social science debates. It is innovative in its methodological approach (owing to the author’s ethnographic study of historical memory), as well as how it highlights connections between postcolonial development, the role of the state, and discourses of public participation.