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Course Details

Course Number: 93-836

Managing Cultural Heritage: Identity and Sustainability

Units: 6


The course focuses on managerial issues in running cultural and arts organizations, with a particular emphasis on cultural heritage. The dialogue between professional discourse, cultural policies and administration is investigated within a comparative approach across international experiences, based on field research. A difficult relationship between identity and sustainability is looked for as a result of interaction of professional values, policies and the issue of managing.

The course is organized in three main parts. The first part deals with general issues of managing cultural organizations and the international debate. On the one hand, the rhetorical nature of management discourse is investigated, in order to avoid misunderstandings, pitfalls, misuses and bad uses of managerial rhetoric when referring to cultural organizations. On the other hand, a more thorough understanding of managerial discourse is proposed here as a less superficial uses of management for arts organizations, either in terms of the strategic approach, knowledge management, organization of labor, HRM and similar issues.

The second part moves more directly to the heritage field, liking the dynamics of professional discourse to the broader process of transformation of public sector, where typically heritage entities (outside the US) tend to be located, and to process of harmonization carried out by international agencies (UNESCO, ICOM, etc.). The focus is initially on Italy, seen as a reference point in the heritage field. After introducing data for a preliminary description of the Italian context, some of the major topics under discussion in Italy are addressed here, in particular concerning the role of public sector in the arts. Major reform processes in this context are then investigated (outsourcing, "managerialization", devolution and privatization/désétatisation). Eventually, the general diffusion of similar issues are looked at in the case of Machu Picchu, also deepening the role played by Unesco in this regard, with relevant difficulties in dealing with the broader process of transformation of Peruvian public sector..

The third part deals with the issue of cultural policies, and their problematic relations with both professional discourse and managerial logics. The notion of Heritage Chain is proposed as a tool to investigate the complex relationships between individual disciplines in the field at an intermediate level between the micro and the macro, either with reference to an individual event (e.g. a specific discovery) or to the distinctive features of the chain in any specific area/nation. The case of China and Turkey are here investigated, in context where the notion of cultural polices tends to acquire a rather directive meaning on how to conceive heritage itself, with potential conflicts with professional views, while managerial problems could sometimes make hard to achieve the policy design.


Luca Zan