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Place narratives and heritage management: the modernist legacy in Manchester

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The built heritage of most cities is heterogeneous, hybrid and multiple. However, certain heritage objects and meanings are invariably privileged over others in place-making strategies. In this paper we are interested in the production of local heritage and design discourses and their impact on the regulation of conservation and change in the built environment. Using the example of the legacy of post-war (i.e. 1950s and 1960s) modernist development in Manchester, England, the paper explores the performative work of place narratives in conservation policy. The contested heritage value of post-war modernist development in the UK is particularly relevant, given the difficulties posed by aspects of 1950s and 1960s design set against increased pressures for conservation. Accordingly, the conservation of aspects of 1950s/1960s urbanism can be fiercely resisted by urban leaders. Empirically, we examine the ways in which post-war heritage has been selectively incorporated into the dominant design and heritage narratives of the city of Manchester. Looking beyond Manchester, the paper contributes to conceptual debates about the situated politics of heritage and the institutional work performed by heritage discourse.

Keywords: Manchester; conservation; heritage; modernism; place narratives

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, Email: 2: Department of Planning and Architecture, University of the West of England, Bristol BS16 1QY

Publication date: March 1, 2011


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