A new model for memory work: nost...
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE This article was downloaded by: [Hodge, Christina J.] On: 8 February 2011 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 933267467] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37- 41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK International Journal of Heritage Studies Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713685629 A new model for memory work: nostalgic discourse at a historic home Christina J. Hodgea a Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA Online publication date: 08 February 2011 To cite this Article Hodge, Christina J.(2011) 'A new model for memory work: nostalgic discourse at a historic home', International Journal of Heritage Studies, 17: 2, 116 — 135 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2011.541065 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2011.541065 Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
International Journal of Heritage Studies Vol. 17, No. 2, March 2011, 116–135 ISSN 1352-7258 print/ISSN 1470-3610 online © 2011 Christina J. Hodge DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2011.541065 http://www.informaworld.com A new model for memory work: nostalgic discourse at a historic home Christina J. Hodge* Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA Taylor RJHS_A_541065.sgmFrancisand (Received 29 September 2009 final version received 10 November 2010) 10.1080/13527258.2011.541065 International of Heritage Studies 1352-7258 (print)/1470-3610 (online) Original ArticleJournal 2011 Taylor & Francis 17 2 000000March 2011 ChristinaHodge firstname.lastname@example.org To make domestic heritage sites useful to their communities, we must acknowledge discourses, define structures and critically examine the interplay of our own and others’ practices of commemoration. How do agendas of remembering and forgetting intersect at historic dwellings? These issues are explored through the Elihu Akin House, a late eighteenth-century house museum in a New England coastal village. Existing site narratives are dissected through the social theories of Peirce and Bourdieu, revealing nostalgia as a structuring element of cultural logics. The author argues that mechanisms of nostalgia, approached critically, offer interpretive common ground for memory work at historic homes (and beyond). As a material and emotional discourse, nostalgia binds memory, place and experience. This study proposes a new model for heritage-makers seeking to alter site narratives without undermining a site’s established worth. They might identify then disrupt pre-existing nostalgic narratives, finally bridging those disruptions through additional, critical nostalgic discourses. New and established narratives can coexist, in harmony and in tension, and visitors should be invited into the interpretive process. Keywords: memory nostalgia heritage narrative semiotics practice theory Discourses of heritage Memory work: heritage as practical experience This is but a small sheaf among many others for, as the floor of the woods is covered with fallen leaves and pieces of detached bark, so the little woodland of my thoughts is strewn over with these rough fragments and memories. Yet the old homestead still stands as I have written it. There is no latchstring. It is always open to receive us. (Houston 1906, preface) Archaeology specifically, and heritage in general, is increasingly framed as ‘memory work’: an interdependent process of remembering and forgetting. Memory, whether individual or collective, is not stable. Memory work is not about retrieving a past truth it is about reconstructing the past’s present, shifting legacies ‘in anticipation of the future’ (Hallam and Hockey 2001, p. 3). It often comprises the creation of public memories from private ones. Our professional responsibility is to be mindful about this work, actively articulating what is being remembered or forgotten, how and why. To make heritage sites useful, we must acknowledge discourses, define structures and *Email: email@example.com
International Journal of Heritage Studies 117 critically examine the interplay of our own and others’ practices of commemoration (see also Edgeworth 2006, Little and Shackel 2007). Material and affective mecha- nisms entangle individual memory with collective memory at history sites, a contested process that reproduces structured social value and meaning. The domestic setting of house museums affords certain possibilities, but core issues of memory and place are universal. This case study considers the Elihu Akin House, a historic house in the north-east United States that is in the process of becoming a heritage site (Figures 1 and 2). Through it I propose a new model of heritage practice: one based in nostalgia. Figure 1. The Elihu Akin House in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, 2007. Photograph by the author. Figure 2. Elihu Akin House, 1905. Photograph by Henry B. Worth. Courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The cornerstones of heritage practice are experience and narrative. These practices reproduce meaning, identity, history and community at individual and collective scales. This conception of heritage is rooted in ontologies of materiality, phenomenology, practice and discourse. Materiality: people and things indivisibly and simultaneously constitute each other. Phenomenology: physical, embodied experiences make spaces meaningful. Practice: everyday engagements show and shape who we are, and new experiences transform old assumptions about the world. Discourse: social reality is broached as if it is brought into being through worldly practices. That is, practices do not simply reflect social reality they comprise it. Material-based discourse analysis is a powerful tool for practical critique in contexts, like heritage sites, where colonialism, capitalism and similar structures are continuously experienced and created (Bender 2002, Paynter 2002, Smith 2006, Hall and Bombardella 2007). As Smith (2006) has expertly argued, the very concept of ‘heritage’ is self-evident only because of the efficacy of discourses in which it plays. In this article, I first review the theoretical underpinnings of my analytical approach Figure 1. The Elihu Akin House in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, 2007. Photograph by the author.