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A new model for memory work: nostalgic discourse at a historic home

by Christina J. Hodge
International Journal of Heritage Studies ()

Abstract

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. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]\nCopyright of International Journal of Heritage Studies is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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