Valuing Living Heritage

By Kevin Gibson.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It is impossible to conserve all heritage. How then do we distinguish what should be kept from what should be abandoned? One way is to treat it as a commodity valued by market mechanisms. For example, the Tutankhamen relics toured worldwide and were assessed by the profit they generated through admission tickets, souvenirs and increased hotel and restaurant sales. Market metrics often fail, though, when applied to living heritage. I use three examples, Taiwanese puppetry, Polish lace making and the Chant of the Sybil in Majorca to illustrate the limitations of a purely monetary approach and show some potential alternatives. I conclude that because once lost, living heritage usually cannot be recovered, advocates should employ both economic and non-economic arguments for preservation.

Keywords: Heritage, Intangible Heritage, Valuation, UNESCO, Tradition

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.87-98. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 354.375KB).

Dr. Kevin Gibson

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Department of Management, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

I work primarily in applied ethics, business ethics, and conflict resolution. I am developing work in sustainability, particularly in terms of the environment and social values.