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Heritage values and legal rules: Identification and treatment of the historic environment via an adaptive regulatory framework (part 1)

Jeremy C. Wells (School of Architecture, Art and Historic Preservation, Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island, USA)
Lucas Lixinski (Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development

ISSN: 2044-1266

Article publication date: 21 November 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Existing regulatory frameworks for identifying and treating historic buildings and places reflect deference to expert rule, which privilege the values of a small number of heritage experts over the values of the majority of people who visit, work, and reside in historic environments. To address this problem, the purpose of this paper is to explore a fundamental shift in how US federal and local preservation laws address built heritage by suggesting a dynamic, adaptive regulatory framework that incorporates heterodox approaches to heritage and therefore is capable of accommodating contemporary sociocultural values.

Design/methodology/approach

The overall approach the authors use is a comparative literature review from the fields of heterodox/orthodox heritage, heterodox/orthodox law, adaptive management, and participatory methods to inform the creation of a dynamic, adaptive regulatory framework.

Findings

Heterodox heritage emphasizes the need for a bottom-up, stakeholder-driven process, where everyday people’s values have the opportunity to be considered as being as valid as those of conventional experts. Orthodox law cannot accommodate this pluralistic approach, so heterodox law is required because, like heterodox heritage, it deconstructs power, values participation, and community involvement.

Practical implications

Orthodox heritage conservation practice disempowers most stakeholders and empowers conventional experts; this power differential is maintained by orthodox law.

Originality/value

To date, there have been few, if any, attempts to address critical heritage studies theory in the context of the regulatory environment. This paper appears to be the first such investigation in the literature.

Keywords

Citation

Wells, J.C. and Lixinski, L. (2016), "Heritage values and legal rules: Identification and treatment of the historic environment via an adaptive regulatory framework (part 1)", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 345-364. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-11-2015-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited