The concept of cultural heritage has been with humanity for a very long time. It was developed by historians, philologists, archaeologists, ethnographers, naturalists, museum curators, archivists, and art collectors. It was also a product of the post-World War II internationalist world order and the quest to create new nations out of older ones.
This approach has inherent biases, but has opened a new and holistic view of heritage studies. Cultural heritage is often a source of conflict, involving issues of power and control over objects and values. Some practices have moral objections, and defining cultural heritage is a difficult and contentious process. Many cultural integrity and preservation advocates are accused of assuming things that are not true.
Cultural heritage encompasses a diverse range of material and intangible attributes. Physical artifacts include works of art, literature, monuments, and other cultural objects. Intangible cultural heritage includes social practices, religious beliefs, and traditions. These characteristics are what make a society distinct. Therefore, cultural heritage is an important resource for conservation efforts.
Memory plays a critical role in shaping cultural heritage. Contested histories also play a role. Museums, archives, and libraries should explore different perspectives on memory and contested history. In order to understand the concept of memory, broader approaches must be developed. This is particularly true of archives, libraries, and museums.
There are many forms of cultural heritage, from small artifacts preserved in museums and art galleries to historic places and buildings protected by regulations and orders. The preservation of cultural heritage poses economic questions. Are people willing to pay a price for preservation? Do people value the shared consumption of cultural goods and attributes? This is a question that is not easy to answer.
Although heritage is traditionally understood as an inheritance from the past, the use of the past has become a key aspect of the definition. It has also led to new avenues for critique and reinterpretation. However, it is still necessary to make sure that the cultural heritage of a society is not misused for political or commercial interests.