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New article: Uses of Heritage and beyond

NIKU's Skrede and Hølleland on Heritage Studies viewed through the lens of Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Realism.

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In a new article Skrede and Hølleland revisit Smith’s modern heritage classic «Uses of heritage», discussing its key catch phrase of the Authorised Heritage Discourse (AHD) and the theoretical foundations of the arguments.

‘Re-read’ of a modern classic

Uses of Heritage (2006) has been an important contribution to the development of Heritage Studies.

Resting on a thorough ‘re-read’ of this modern classic, the article analyses the text applying some central concepts from Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Realism in order to review the arguments put forward.


One of the linguistic features from Critical Discourse Analysis we draw on is ‘nominalization’, which refers to replacing verb processes with a noun construction.

Re-reading Uses of Heritage and other succeeding publications, it is apparent that the phrase ‘Authorized Heritage Discourse’ is nominalized and reified into an entity obscuring who does what to whom, thereby making the ‘Authorized Heritage Discourse’ a self-evident unit of explanation.

A rule of conduct?

Furthermore, the insistence on viewing heritage as a cultural process rather than as ‘things’ is not readably compatible with Critical Realism’s non-reductionist stance.

Wrapping up, we nonetheless argue that really taking Critical Discourse Analysis and Critical Realism on board could provide a rule of conduct for the future developments of Heritage Studies, where multifarious conceptions of heritage can co-exist.

Read and download the article here:

Read and download the article in the Journal of Social Archaeology: