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Djabarouti, J., 2020.

Between feelings and things: intangible heritage from within the built heritage paradigm

Output Type:Conference paper
Presented at:Association of Critical heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference: ACHS FUTURES 2020
Venue:University College London, UK
Dates:26/8/2020 - 30/8/2020

The understanding of built heritage in England is traditionally concerned with the tangible domain of heritage. Whilst more contemporary building conservation literature acknowledges the need to consider the intangible heritage domain, its definition specifically within the built heritage sector is not conclusive. This is not only due to the ephemeral nature of intangible heritage but also due to its lack of prevalence and formalisation within built heritage policy. This study seeks to contribute towards a more specific definition of intangible heritage to assist future built heritage professionals in making conservation decisions. A series of 16 semi-structured interviews with built heritage professionals in England were conducted in 2019, with the results thematically analysed to generate a specific interpretation of intangible heritage. The built heritage professionals perceived intangible heritage to be a temporal, polysemic building association which can be both truth and myth; and believed it to be rooted within three primary 'intangible building assemblages': 'history', 'memory', and 'emotion'. It was stated these manifest most commonly as one (or a combination) of the following 'intangible building associations': 'stories'; 'building uses'; 'events'; and 'traditional craft'. The findings not only suggest an alternative, more building-specific definition for intangible heritage, but also suggest the beginnings of an alternative theoretical framework that may impact what buildings we may choose to designate as heritage in the future. Further research will expand on these findings through a series of case study buildings, aiming to understand the impact of the paradoxical tangible-intangible fusion on current heritage processes and discourse.