CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

For over half a century, it has been frequently observed that the European institutions barely exist in the hearts and minds of European people. Of all the groups and collective identities from which inhabitants of this small headland of Asia can now choose, “European” is generally the least embodied, the least deeply rooted, and the least affectively and directly discernible. European leaders have made various attempts to plug this symbolic hole, not least by promoting the idea of a European heritage. According to sociologist Anne-Marie Autissier, heritage is even “the spoiled child of European cultural cooperation,” since it shows, in the most concrete manner possible, what Europe is, and best illustrates the necessary compromise between a desire for unity and a respect for European cultural diversity: the two poles between which all public policies are pulled at the European level. But what is “European heritage,” and how have the policies designed to preserve and showcase it been developed and implemented? An analysis of the initiatives pursued in this sphere reveals a diverse spectrum of types of heritage (architectural, archaeological, movable, cultural, natural, and immaterial), stakeholders (from individuals to European bodies via regional authorities, non-profit networks, cultural institutions, and governments), rationales and stated objectives (preservation, education, economic development and promoting tourism, and pride in a particular identity), and methods (regulation, subsidies, labels, awards, and digitization)…

Laurent Martin
Laurent Martin is a professor of history at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, and a member of the Intégration et coopération dans l’espace européen (ICEE) (Integration and Cooperation in the European Area) research group, and the History Committee at the French Ministry of Culture. He is also a coeditor of Cultural History in France: Local Debates, Global Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2019).
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