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The Problematic of Conceptualizing a European Cultural Heritage

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© 2016 Inter-Disciplinary Press. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Inter-Disciplinary Press. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
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The Problematic of Conceptualizing a European Cultural Heritage

The idea of a common European cultural heritage is frequently referred to in the political discourses and practices of the EU. The idea of a European cultural heritage elevates the ideas of ownership and inheritance beyond the local, regional, or national frameworks and transforms the heritage sites and objects into a ‘common good’ belonging to all Europeans and into a source of a common European cultural identity. Scholars have debated the possibility of a common European cultural heritage, and in case such could exist, what it could be grounded upon. Critical scholars have asked what might be the trans-border European dimension of heritage that goes beyond the mere sum of national, regional, or local icons, or questioned the possibility of common European heritage practices due to the lack of a singular European people. Some scholars have, however, found a possible common ground for a European cultural heritage for example in urbanity, European cities and their historical environment, and the styles and movements of art and architecture. Functions and uses of the idea of European cultural heritage and the contexts in which it becomes important and meaningful have changed over the course of time and are constantly transforming. The recent societal, political, and cultural changes in Europe have influenced the notions on heritage and made the concept of a common European cultural heritage more problematic. What is a European cultural heritage and how has it been approached in recent scholarly discussions? How can a European cultural heritage be made sense of in relation to the ideas of universalism, cosmopolitanism, particularism, transnationalism, translocalism, transculturalism, and pan-Europeanism? The paper aims to clarify the meanings of a European cultural heritage and critically discuss the problematic related to its foundations.

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