Current Issue Article Abstracts

2021 Vol. 10.1   

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Historic Preservation: An American Perspective on a Professional Discipline
Frank Matero


Conservation As Shared Responsibility: Social Equity, Social Justice, and the Public Good
Ainslee Meredith, Robyn Sloggett AM, Marcelle Scott

Social inequity presents a risk to cultural heritage, but conservation has a strong contribution to make to social equity and justice goals. Exploring case studies where access to conservation, and thus the right to heritage, is disrupted by social inequities, this paper argues that conservation—as a normative discipline premised on the idea of a future in which heritage is accessible and open to interpretation, use, and enjoyment—must, like social equity and justice movements, work to create more equitable sociopolitical futures.

Theorizing that conservation is a public good, case studies of Aboriginal art centers in remote and regional Australia and conservation education in Australia establish the need to rebalance conservation in areas that have experienced past structural injustice. Drawing on ethical and political philosophy, critical evaluations of the profession that attempt to redefine conservation discourses are proposed to demonstrate the obligation of conservation to account for principles of social equity and justice. Overall, the paper reflects on the philosophical, ethical, and societal implications for the profession of understanding conservation as a public good.

A Pattern Assemblage: Art, Craft, and Conservation
Jennifer Minner

The Northland Pattern Wall: City of Past and Future Craft is an assemblage artwork created by artist and architecture professor Dennis Maher with coinstructors and students of the Society for the Advancement of Construction-Related Arts (SACRA) program. SACRA is an arts-based vocational training program providing construction skills training to individuals in need. It is based at Assembly House 150, an artist-led experiential learning center in Buffalo, New York. This article employs qualitative methods inspired by the hermeneutic spiral to examine the Northland Pattern Wall, SACRA, and Assembly House 150. This article highlights takeaways for heritage conservation, as well as allied professions, about the relevance of building trades and creative practices that help to shape and conserve the built environment. The story behind the Northland Pattern Wall is used as an opportunity to reflect on the potential to build stronger alliances between professionals, tradespersons, and artists in designing creatively out of the patterns of the past to build a more sustainable and equitable future city.

The Evolving Role of Contemporary Conservation Architects in India: Beyond Traditional Professional Practice
Ashima Krishna

India has a centuries-long history of heritage conservation in the public realm; private practice, however, mainly began in the 1980s, led primarily by architects. Contemporary professionals are also typically architects with graduate training in heritage conservation. Their training in architecture, conservation, or both, however, mainly focuses on design and the technical aspects of the field. However, an analysis of narratives collected from conservation architects shows that in the course of a project, they take on various nontraditional roles beyond their training to bring projects to fruition. These roles can be applied to a variety of professional environments involving different stakeholders. This paper examines narratives focusing on projects involving public officials because most conservation projects in India continue to be publicly funded. By framing the narratives within three types of professional environments—constrained, porous, and enabling—this paper discusses how by taking on nontraditional roles, conservation architects can shape the current profession and its future practitioners, with implications for conservation education in India and beyond.

Preservation at a Crossroads: The Need for Equity Preservation
Caroline Cheong

Historic preservation has an image problem. The field has evolved from a conversation among an elite few regarding select monumental buildings judged solely for their appearance or national significance, to a dialogue among many about collections of buildings appreciated for their pluralistic contexts and meanings. Despite these advancements, the discipline is still often accused of being elitist, exclusionary, and opposed to equity. Couched within the field's interdisciplinary expansion, preservation's supporters and critics increasingly demand greater and more comprehensive inclusion of minority and marginalized communities in the preservation process to ensure fairer distribution of its costs and benefits. Given the current climate of cause-driven social movements and vibrant social dialogue, ignoring such a clarion call threatens to stagnate the preservation field and its contributions to contemporary issues, as well as substantiate accusations that the field is incompatible with equity. There is extremely limited literature on preservation and equity. This research begins to fill that gap. It starts by tracing the discipline's conceptual evolution toward equity and diversity and emphasizes the anachronistic mismatch between the field's conceptual development and practical implementation. It then examines the scant literature directly connecting preservation and equity, contending that an equity preservation approach addresses three of the most common criticisms levied at the field—which are also among society's significant social challenges—gentrification, diversity, and social justice. The paper concludes by presenting examples of two tools, public-private partnerships and community land trusts, that are particularly well suited to an equity preservation agenda.