Goddard, Jennifer. Construed heritage: narratives and collectable experiences. London: Lexington books, 2021. x, 191 p. ISBN 9781793615657. £73.00
The book on construed heritage came as a surprise to me. The literature on cultural heritage issues that reaches me usually presents the discourse of the memory institutions, explores the problems of provenance, authenticity, representation of cultural heritage, necessity to involve the communities owning it into developing requirements for digitisation, selection, collection development and providing of the context for understanding this heritage in whatever formats it comes. Lately, the ethical aspects of all these processes involved in preservation of culture have become an important part of research. However, studies, exploring reactions of the audience and the individual sense-making of the cultural heritage, rarely occur on my horizon, unless these aspects are part of information behaviour studies, which is quite rare.
This does not mean that these studies do not exist. They are quite significantly rooted in heritage theories and identity studies. However, I was mostly aware of those that deal with the meanings of the cultural heritage, or objects in semiotic studies, rather than of affective-based experiantial aspects and individual sense-making. This book is devoted to exploring these latter aspects and as such introduces a whole range of studies within this field of inquiry.
The Construed heritage introduces and explores subjective and objective factors involved in individual experiences of cultural artefacts and construction of heritage narratives. These narratives can be affected by a number of social and individual circumstances affecting narrative positions and shaping cultural experiences. The role of memory in re-creation of the experiences and distancing oneself from them is also playing a role in the dynamics of narrative changes as well as intersubjective relations with the narratives of others, be they society at large or its individual members.
The book consists of six sections. The first two are devoted to the explanation of theoretical concepts involved in research, such as subjective positioning in discourse (chapter 1) and construal distance, interpretation and visitation (chapter 2). The other two sections look into specific narratives. The third explores the construction of narratives of the collectors as ways of justifying their activities. The fourth looks into the motivation and authobiographical reasoning in constructing heritage related narratives and building of cognitive museums by individuals. The fifth section explains the cognitive processes involved in building self-narratives related to cultural heritage experience. In the sixth section the author returns to the role of memory in framing cultural heritage events and producing series of narratives in the interplay with cultural heritage sites and institutions. Thus subjective collection of heritage experience and cognitive distancing from them creates an intricate subjective-objective memory objects.
The book is written with professional readers, namely, researchers in mind. It uses specialised language of a particular direction exploring subjective construction of experiences and making sense of cultural heritage. However, it could be useful for some of our readers by expanding their conceptual tools of research into human information and communication behaviour.
University of Borås
How to cite this review
Maceviciute, E. (2021). Review of: Goddard, Jennifer. Construed heritage: narratives and collectable experiences London: Lexington books, 2021. Information Research, 26(4), review no. R726 http://www.informationr.net/ir/reviews/revs726.html
Information Research is published four times a year by the University of Borås, Allégatan 1, 501 90 Borås, Sweden.