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A New Look at Old Heritage: When what you see is not what you get

Room TBC, University of Birmingham
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops
Thursday 17th November 2016 (17:30-18:30)
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By Lloyd Carpenter

Heritage is a growing part of our culture and is big business. Heritage is shown, discussed and even repaired on television shows, provides the setting for drama series, runs in parallel with crime detection shows, and is an expanding sector of the world tourism market. For many visitors and consumers, heritage encounters and experiences foster the development of a sense of rootedness, belonging and identity, by appropriating the heritage as their own. For some, heritage engagement is a reaction to perceptions of an increasingly media-constructed, consumption-driven and overly-homogenised global culture, making heritage become the marker for establishing or clinging on to a constructed ontological point of difference.

This lecture argues that heritage engagement is not real, but a simplistic, romanticised nostalgia for the past, mediated by the purveyors and gate-keepers of what has become a heritage industry. It suggests that it is possible for a harder, edgier, new look at old heritage, one that reveals the many layers that lie beneath what we perceive. LLoyd argues that revealing these layers increases legitimacy, deepens reality, authenticates identity and ultimately allows for a heritage experience that has much more value than a brief visit and a take-home guidebook could ever offer. Using examples from New Zealand’s Central Otago and other heritage landscapes from around the world, this lecture will explore the layers beneath heritage, challenging heritage consumers to look again.


New Zealand-born Lloyd Carpenter is from the Ngati Toa Rangatira iwi (tribe). In 1984, he completed a BSc in Economics and Mathematics and after earning his Teaching diploma, taught at a private secondary school. He then worked in management positions in insurance and stationery and then became a Salvation Army officer, before returning to teach at a low socio-economic school in Christchurch. In 2008, he gained a scholarship to the University of Canterbury for a first class honours degree in English and History and in 2013, submitted his doctorate examining the Central Otago gold rush. In 2014, Lloyd was appointed to teach Maori Studies at Lincoln University. As well as studying early New Zealand colonial history, he continues to write about gold rush engineering and water history and in March 2016, he was lead editor of a collection of essays examining the Australasian gold rushes (‘Rushing for Gold – Life and Commerce on the Goldfields of New Zealand and Australia’, Otago UP). In 2016 he was granted a sabbatical as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge Faculty of History, where he is conducting research into the British regiments who fought in the Maori Land Wars of the 1840s and 1860s.

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