Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Djabarouti, J., 2021.

Stories of feelings and things: intangible heritage from within the built heritage paradigm in the UK

Output Type:Journal article
Publication:International Journal of Heritage Studies
Publisher:Informa UK Limited
Volume/Issue:27 (4)
Pagination:pp. 391-406

The changing nature of heritage over recent decades has stimulated a focus on intangible heritage - the understanding of which specifically from within the UK built heritage paradigm remains inconclusive. This is problematic when considering developments in policy and practice that demonstrate a steady dismantling of a material focus. To gain sector-specific insight into how the intangible heritage of buildings is conceptualised, a series of 16 semi-structured interviews were conducted with built heritage professionals. Data were collated into eight themes (stories; history; events; memory; use; discord; craft; emotion) and an explanatory model developed, revealing the understanding of intangible heritage as a collection of 'narratives' that contribute towards an overarching building 'story'. Both 'buildings' and 'people' were acknowledged as co-authors of this story; however, professionals did not acknowledge their own role within the storytelling process. This downplays their role as curator of heritage, as well as their personal experiences that inevitably shape the storytelling process. Findings suggest built heritage practice should be reconceptualised as a storytelling activity. This will offer greater opportunities for intangible heritage to be consolidated within the built heritage paradigm, by encouraging professionals to see themselves as narrators of intangible heritage as well as custodians of physical heritage.