Meaning making in the cosmopolitics of heritage

LCJ 26 cover

Christine Tarbett-Buckley

LCJ: Special Issue:

Collaborative knowledge work in northern Australia, 26, pp. 50-56

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Tarbett-Buckley, C. (2020). Meaning making in the cosmopolitics of heritage. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Collaborative knowledge work in northern Australia], 26, 50-56.



The cosmopolitics of heritage refers to the politics of working cosmologies together and separately simultaneously, in making meaningful stories of the multiple and complex histories that contribute to any place’s heritage. In this paper, I recount a visit to a World Heritage site in the Northern Territory of Australia. My story describes a seemingly modest disconcertment about the on-site presentation of the place. Taking this disconcertment seriously I point to some compromises that have been made in waging the cosmopolitics of designing the presentation. My aim in articulating this is to suggest that there are better and worse ways of making these compromises and that careful explicitness, even if the story of place becomes complex and complicated, is a helpful step towards achieving this.


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