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Polarized Pasts: Heritage and Belonging in Times of Political Polarization

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Volume 8

Explorations in Heritage Studies

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Polarized Pasts

Heritage and Belonging in Times of Political Polarization

Edited by Elisabeth Niklasson

234 pages, 22 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-848-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (January 2023)

eISBN 978-1-80073-849-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This volume adds an important and highly original contribution to debates on the contested role of heritage, identities and belonging in European states in the 21st century. Focusing on the instrumental role of the past in polarizing debates about origins, ethnicity, and nationhood, the volume offers a compelling account about the rise of populism and right-wing movements in Europe and their engagement with heritage discourse to meet their political ends.” • Graeme Were, University of Bristol

This book is a timely contribution to a critical discussion on the political uses of heritage in polarized Western societies. It brings together thoughtfully written case studies in which the meaning-making of heritage is explored through racism, ethnonationalism, identity-building, and exclusive interpretations of the past.” • Tuuli Lähdesmäki, University of Jyväskylä


When questions of belonging enter the forefront of political debates, so too does heritage. This volume draws critical voices from archaeology, anthropology and the classics into a conversation about political uses of the past in times of radical right populism. The authors show how ancient monuments and sites, bygone eras and political regimes, and even your genetic ancestry, can become wrapped up in polarized political debates. They also highlight how heritage, which is often thought of as a common good, can be dangerous in times of political polarization – erasing nuances between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Together, the texts pave the way for a better understanding of the political role of heritage in society.

Elisabeth Niklasson is Lecturer in Cultural Heritage at University of Aberdeen. She pursues research on EU heritage policy and the uses of the past by political parties in Scandinavia.

Subject: Heritage StudiesCultural Studies (General)Archaeology


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