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Excavating fictions: perceptions and awareness of the historic environment and the implications for its management and use

McCarthy, S.A.; (2009) Excavating fictions: perceptions and awareness of the historic environment and the implications for its management and use. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This research aims to analyse, understand and evaluate public perceptions of, and attitudes towards, the historic environment. Moving from a wider consideration of the political and economic demands on 'the past' and the exploration of the processes of environmental perception to a place-specific case study, it examines the management practices and interpretive processes that influence how and why people engage with their local historic environment. The thesis begins with a critical appraisal of the discourses surrounding the management and conservation of the historic environment, with particular reference to its claims regarding sense of identity, belonging and place. It is argued that, contrary to the accepted assumptions, little is understood about how people perceive the historic environment, and that until this has been resolved, the role of the historic environment in social well-being must remain assumed rather than proven. One of the main aims of this work is to devise a means of analysing how people engage with their local historic environment. The research methodology focuses on studies in landscape perception and the methods applied to examine attitudes, beliefs, emotions and behaviour as they relate to the environment. This allows the development of effective qualitative techniques in these areas, which afford the detailed examination, by way of a case study, of the relationship between people’s sense of identity, belonging, place, and the archaeological and historical features of the environment. The location chosen for the case study is the rural valley of Glencar in south west Ireland. No comprehensive account of the area's history and antiquities existed, thus necessitating the creation of an inventory and narrative account of the historic environment of Glencar. This new template provided the basis against which the local community’s perceptions were examined through a tightly focused survey questionnaire. The case study’s conclusions demonstrate a significant gap between the practice and policy of historic environmental management and the ways in which the public accesses the historic environment.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Excavating fictions: perceptions and awareness of the historic environment and the implications for its management and use
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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