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The Rise of Heritage
Preserving the Past in France, Germany and England, 1789–1914

Part of New Studies in European History

  • Date Published: November 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107595583


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About the Authors
  • Where does our fascination for 'heritage' originate? This groundbreaking comparative study of preservation in France, Germany and England looks beyond national borders to reveal how the idea of heritage emerged from intense competition and collaboration in a global context. Astrid Swenson follows the 'heritage-makers' from the French Revolution to the First World War, revealing the importance of global networks driving developments in each country. Drawing on documentary, literary and visual sources, the book connects high politics and daily life and uncovers how, through travel, correspondence, world fairs and international congresses, the preservationists exchanged ideas, helped each other campaign and dreamed of establishing international institutions for the protection of heritage. Yet, these heritage-makers were also animated by fierce rivalry as international tension grew. This mixture of international collaboration and competition created the European culture of heritage, which defined preservation as integral to modernity, and still shapes current institutions and debates.

    • Uncovers the global connections behind the rise of our modern fascination for heritage
    • Draws on documentary, literary and visual sources from British, French and German archives to bring the heritage-makers to life
    • Resonates with current debates about heritage, offering ways to rethink modern practices of preservation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book should be required reading for all scholars interested in nineteenth-century collecting. Astrid Swenson has produced a lucid and persuasive synthesis of the emergence of historical preservation in Britain, France and Germany, ranging from the debates on vandalism and restitution during the French Revolution through to the flurry of international congresses in the fin-de-siècle. In the process, she subtly challenges the orthodoxies about the unique complexion of each nation's heritage culture - namely the statist French, the civic-minded German bourgeoisie or the individualist and aristocratic British …This is an extraordinarily learned, multi-faceted and important study that reminds us of what was, and is, at stake in the decision to preserve the past.' Tom Stammers, Journal of the History of Collections

    'Swenson's book is expertly researched, clearly written and offers an empirically rich approach to transnational heritage … in its mastery of British, French and German sources, its ambitious scope and its contribution to our understanding of heritage, the book is a major achievement, and will interest those working on heritage studies, architectural history, transnational history and modern European history.' Chris Pearson, The English Historical Review

    'Swenson's prodigious archival work in three languages has unearthed convincing evidence to support her contention that we must revise facile characterizations of preservation movements on the basis of supposed national difference … Swenson's chapters on international exhibitions, fairs, and expositions detail how the growing sense among intellectuals and activists of the need to 'preserve the past' as a responsibility of 'Western Civilization' led cultural nationalists to attempt to demonstrate at various events that their nation was at the apex of that civilization. This is an important and well-made argument, echoing other scholars who have found clear connections between nationalist and internationalist movements in domestic history in the mid- and later nineteenth century …' Stephen Heathorn, The Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107595583
    • length: 432 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 57 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. National Heritage Movements:
    1. In search of origins
    2. The heritage-makers
    Part II. International Meeting-Points:
    3. Exhibition mania
    4. 'Peace and goodwill among nations'
    Part III. Transnational Campaigns:
    5. 'A Morris dance 'round St Mark's'
    6. 'A yardstick for a people's cultural attainment'

  • Author

    Astrid Swenson, Brunel University
    Astrid Swenson is Lecturer in European History at Brunel University, London. Her previous publications include From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, c.1800–1940 (co-edited with Peter Mandler, 2013).

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