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From Plunder to PreservationBritain and the Heritage of Empire, c.1800–1940$
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Astrid Swenson and Peter Mandler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265413

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265413.001.0001

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The Heritage of Empire*

The Heritage of Empire*

(p.3) 1 The Heritage of Empire*
From Plunder to Preservation

Astrid Swenson

British Academy

This chapter maps the relationships between heritage and empire in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and their impact on notions of world heritage. It connects the history of heritage in the metropole with that in the colonies, and relates imperial entanglements to other emerging transnational connections. It outlines commonalities and differences across the British empire and compares the British situation with developments elsewhere. Mapping shifting attitudes to ‘plunder’ and ‘preservation’, it shows how imperialism and preservationism were mutually constitutive as preservation was increasingly promoted as an instrument of good governance. However, it also shows how, across the British empire, a rhetoric of imperial preservation masked the appropriation of indigenous knowledge by the imperialists, while imperial notions of heritage were subverted and reclaimed by the colonized.

Keywords:   heritage, preservation, plunder, imperialism, British empire, indigenous knowledge, world heritage, entangled history

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