Giving voice to heritage: a virtual case study

Máiréad Nic Craith, Ursula Boser, Ashvin Immanuel Devasundaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
108 Downloads (Pure)


This essay focuses on changing discourses of heritage with reference to concepts of place broadly defined. Our virtual case study is Wim Wenders' series of documentaries entitled Cathedrals of Culture. In this series of 3D films, Wenders invited five other directors to give voice to their favourite buildings. The directors chose classic examples of Western heritage located primarily in European cities. Our contribution explores the human constructions assigned to these buildings and the implications of the anthropomorphisation of buildings for the concept of heritage. With reference to categories of tangible and intangible heritage, we ask whether giving voice to material artefacts challenges the material dominance of architecture for heritage, deepening our sense of place and constituting a step forward for a more dialogical approach to heritage generally. We query the extent to which this filmic anthology reinforces a hegemonic authorised heritage discourse or delivers a postmodern version of ‘spirit of place’. We ask whether this filmic adventure in 3D could effectively generate a new and (re)newed sense of place in other heritage contexts. Our hypothesis is set in the framework of various ICOMOS and UNESCO international charters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-445
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Anthropology
Issue number4
Early online date18 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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