As a contemporary concept, heritage bridges legal discourse and ethical discourse, national affiliations and a global imaginary, colonial pasts and neocolonial presents. The term often circulates beliefs in cultural authenticity, collective memory, and historical merit under the logic of neoliberal markets and legitimate capital gain, hence the tight connections between cultural heritage, industry, and tourism. While the concept developed as early as the nineteenth century in postrevolutionary France, its expansive political, juridical, and symbolic use has matured only after the Second World War, primarily as a reaction to the mass destruction experienced in European cities. Managing “heritage” in the context of the global political imagination created after the war, UNESCO has become the key player, lead actor, and sole orchestrator of all things/sites/memories—tangible and intangible—defined as World Cultural Heritage. This article looks at recent critical engagement with heritage, and with UNESCO's role in identifying heritage sites, by exploring Refugee Heritage, a recent project of DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency).

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