Historic Preservation: Collective Memory and Historical Identity
"An enlightening comparison between the preservation movements of Great Britain and the United States . . . timely, provocative, and first-rate." --Suzanne Vromen, Bard College "A masterful contribution to social history, popular culture, collective memory, and the field of historical preservation itself . . . that will be cited by students of collective memory for years to come." --Barry Schwartz, University of Georgia Historic preservation is a cultural movement gaining momentum and adherents throughout Europe and the United States. How do we decide what to preserve and how to preserve? Who benefits from the efforts of preservationists, curators, developers, and other "symbolic bankers" to safeguard an increasing variety of structures for future generations? Diane Barthel raises these and other questions in this important new book. Taking a comparative approach, Barthel finds that preservation in Britain has largely been an elite enterprise aimed at preserving traditional values. In the United States, by contrast, the pattern is much more dynamic and democratic, though also more permeated by commercialism. Is preservation becoming another means of consuming history, like media representations or "historic" shopping outlets? Or does it have a special significance as a very tangible means of getting in touch with our collective and individual pasts? These and other issues--including war and remembrance, agrarian and industrial preservation, and religious preservation in a secular society--demonstrate the significance of what Barthels calls "the Preservation Project" and why we all have a stake in how our history is reconstructed and interpreted. Diane Barthel received her Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University and is a professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. She is the author of Putting on Appearances: Gender and Advertising and Amana: From Pietist Sect to American Community.