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    Intersectionality and the Construction

    of Cultural Heritage Management

    Wera Grahn, NIKUThe Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage

    Research, Storgata 2, PO Box 736, Sentrum, 0105 Oslo, Norway

    E-mail: [email protected]


    From an intersectional perspective, this article will identify, critically analyse

    and deepen the understanding of how the social categories gender, class,

    ethnicity and nationality are inscribed and interlinked in the official

    narratives performed by the public actors in the field of cultural heritage

    management. This article will analyse the contemporary discourse of the

    official institutional cultural heritage management actors, with special

    emphasis on Protection Orders made by the Directorate for Cultural

    Heritage in Norway. It is important to analyse this kind of material because

    it can bring new knowledge and raise the level of awareness of theconstruction of identities that are present at a structural national level of

    representation. This has the potential to increase the understanding of how

    the societal feeling of being Norwegian is created, which in a strange way

    seems to have striking similarities to the representations of national

    identities in other Western countries.


    Resume: Dans une perspective intersectionnelle, cet article permettra

    didentifier, danalyser de facon critique et dapprofondir la comprehension

    de la maniere dont les categories sociales, le sexe, la classe, lorigine

    ethnique et la nationalite sont inscrits et interdependants dans les recits

    officiels effectues par les acteurs publics dans le domaine de la gestion du

    patrimoine culturel. Cet article analyse le discours contemporain des agents

    officiels institutionnels de la gestion du patrimoine culturel, en accordant

    une importance particuliere aux ordonnances de protection prises par la

    Direction du patrimoine culturel en Norvege. Il convient danalyser ce type

    de documents car ils peuvent apporter des connaissances nouvelles et

    elever le niveau de sensibilisation de la construction des identites qui sont

    presentes au niveau national structurel de la representation. Ce travail

    devrait permettre de mieux comprendre la facon dont le sentiment

    dappartenance a la societe norvegienne se cree, et qui etrangement








    222 2011 World Archaeological Congress

    Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress ( 2011)

    DOI 10.1007/s11759-011-9164-x

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    semble avoir des similitudes frappantes avec les representations des

    identites nationales dans dautres pays occidentaux.________________________________________________________________

    Resumen: Desde una perspectiva interseccional, este artculo identifica,

    analiza de forma crtica y profundiza en la comprension de como el genero

    de las categoras sociales, la clase, la etnicidad y la nacionalidad se inscriben

    y se entrelazan en la narrativa oficial de los actores publicos en el campo de

    la gestion patrimonial cultural. El artculo analiza el discurso contemporaneo

    de los actores oficiales de gestion patrimonial cultural e institucional,

    haciendo enfasis en las ordenes de proteccion emitidas por la Direccion de

    Patrimonio Cultural de Noruega. Es importante analizar esta clase dematerial porque puede aportar nuevos conocimientos y concienciar mas

    sobre la construccion de las identidades que estan presentes en un nivel

    nacional y estructural de la representacion. Esto puede incrementar la

    comprension de como se crea el sentimiento social de ser noruego, que en

    cierto modo parece presentar similitudes sorprendentes con las

    representaciones de las identidades nacionales en otros pases occidentales.



    Cultural heritage management, Intersectionality, Gender studies,

    Feminist theory_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


    Feminist theory currently covers a broad area within the Academic disci-

    plines. It is today an integrated part of almost every subject in one way oranother. Depending on the specific theory being used and in which partic-ular discipline, the theoretical approaches have been developed in specialways, a process similar to those occurring in any other new subject field.Of course the characteristics of the empirical material and the researchquestions as such have also had an impact on how feminist theory hasdeveloped. This means that no single feminist theory exists today, but sev-eral feminisms. But even if there are differences, there are also some basicsimilarities. Firstly, the focus is set on gender and it is not primarily thebiological sex, but the socially and culturally constructed one which isexamined. This is the prism used to see the world through. The contentand the boundaries of what are perceived as feminine or masculine and thestereotypic understandings of this relationship is further emphasized andquestioned. Secondly, the asymmetrical power relations between these

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    categories are being problematized. Thirdly, this kind of research most often

    has an emancipatory aim, which means that the goal is to change unequalgender relations. Here it is important to keep in mind that unequal genderrelations are primarilybut not exclusivelysituated at a structural leveland are most often linked to a lack of political, economic and symbolicpower (cp. Young 1997).1 It is a question of who has or has not the powerto control and master ones own life and to be a part in the development ofthe society as a whole. One common misconception of feminism is that allfeminists see the unequal gender relations as an effect of a far reaching maleconspiracy. This is not necessarily the case. To apply a feminist perspective

    means to raise the awareness of deeply rooted values and norms that areinternalized in all of us, to a higher or lower degree. Unconsciously we arecategorizing and dividing the world in feminine and masculine terms. Thisway of understanding the world is so deeply internalized in us that wehardly question it. It often appears to be an evident and natural way tounderstand the world. That is what makes these structures so effective. It isthis way of seeing that a feminist perspective wants to change.

    Feminist theory has also had an impact outside the universities in manyfields of practice. But even if feminist theory and gender studies is a rap-idly growing sphere2 feminist approaches seem to have had less impact insome domains than in others. One area that appears to have paid very lit-tle attention to these questions is the field of cultural heritage managementand a particular absence of awareness can be observed within the area ofpractices in this sector.

    To be more precise I am referring to gender informed perspectives ofthe preferred meaning (Hall 1997) being assigned to cultural heritagesites or historical buildings by the official authorities in the field of culturalheritage management. To critically analyse the official version of history isimportant because even if many other readings can be made, the one

    which is officially sanctioned is also articulated from a normative, suppos-edly neutral position and often understood to be the very version which istrue. This is a consequence of this fields strong relationship to modernity(cp. Grahn 2006; Hooper-Greenhill 1992, 2000; Smith 2006; Smith andWaterton 2009). The officially constructed image of the past tends to clingto the cultural imaginary (Dawson 1994) and forms a rigid frame insidewhich only a limited number of histories appear to be able to take place.

    Very little seems to have been done in this area. One example touchingupon the above mentioned approach is the study by Alcock (2002) show-

    ing how the allegedly ungendered focus of archaeology on public buildingsand monuments in fact has been an androcentric enterprise. However, thisstudy does not critically analyse the official construction of the past pro-moted by different actors in the cultural heritage management field asmuch as dealing with the use of the past by different groups in the past.

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    Another example more closely related to the management field is Smiths

    (2008) recent study of how people make different interpretations of thesame cultural heritage site. Such investigations are important because theyin many ways convey hope in showing that the readings do not necessarilyhave to be the one intended by the official stakeholders in the field of cul-tural heritage management. In relation to gender perspectives this impliesthat the readings do not have to be as limited as intended. However, thecircumstance that people make their own interpretations does not make itless urgent to scrutinize critically the privileged meaning assigned by theauthorities, because they not only have a normative function of pointing

    out what is considered historically important, but also indirectly sketch theoutline of the ideal citizen. Only a few works have this far been founddealing directly with the questions of how the official authorities couldconstitute the images of the past from an explicit feminist perspective(Grahn 2009; Kaufman and Corbett 2003; Knafve 2003; Myrin 2009).

    Apart from this, various works related to questions of the cultural heri-tage management sector at the most have one or two sentences in which itis stated that it would be of interest to apply a gender perspectiveor thegender perspective, as if there was only onebut very few actually seemsto be doing it.


    This article will attempt, however, to alleviate the lack of gender awarenessand will from an intersectional perspective try to identify, critically analyseand deepen the understanding of how the social categories of gender, class,ethnicity, nationality etc. are inscribed and interlinked in the official narra-tives performed by the public actors in the field of cultural heritage man-

    agement. Intersectionality is one among several perspectives on thefeminist academic arena. It takes into account how various structures ofoppression are intertwined and how these power structures become mutu-ally reinforced by one another. Gender interacts closely with for instanceclass, ethnicity, and nationality. These structures of oppression worktogether and shape the societal hierarchical power relations in a way thatgives certain combinations a higher value than others do. It is importantto investigate how these social categories act together and how they areconstructed. The key point here is to emphasize that identities are not cre-

    ated out of one single social category, but are formed at the crossroad ofseveral intersecting power structures. It is essential to examine how struc-tures of power and oppression cooperate and to investigate whose interestsare being marginalized and whose are given privilege in societal processes.It is a key to understand the effects of power.

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    This is also a fruitful perspective when examining which identities are

    being produced, reproduced and rewarded at various levels in society andhow this is done. Most often these processes of identity construction arebeing perceived as natural and self-evident, and are hardly ever ques-tioned, which make them almost invisible. This is what makes them soeffective and makes them last over long periods of time. Applying an inter-sectional perspective can deepen the understanding of these processes andtheir consequences.

    Intersectionality grew out of the writings of Black feminists and thisapproach was applied already during the 1970s (Crenshaw 1994). It is a

    perspective that has grown stronger during above all the 1990s (Collins1998). In its present form intersectionality appears in the intersticesbetween post-structuralism, feminist theory, post-colonial theory, blackfeminism and queer theory. Among its predecessors are Crenshaw (1994),Collins (1998), Young (1997) and McCall (2005). This perspective hasreceived an increasing interest in the Scandinavian academic context duringrecent years (see e.g. de los Reyes and Mulinari 2005; de los Reyes et al.2002; Lykke 2003, 2005, 2010).

    Cultural Heritage Management

    The primary empirical material derives from the list of special ProtectionOrders made by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage in Norway(Riksantikvaren)the national authority responsible for cultural heritagemanagementin recent years and the official presentation made by thisinstitution.3 This includes an examination of the formal documents shapedfor and by experts as well as the more popular versions aimed at the gen-eral public. In addition, examples will be included from the institutional

    context in which the Protection Orders are made, comprising both theintra-institutional context and the relation to other relevant public actorsin this field.

    In this article my view of the official cultural heritage management sec-tor conflates to a high degree with what Smith (2006) has identified as anauthorized heritage discourse (AHD). According to Smith the AHD is aparticular way of understanding heritage that privileges the recollection ofa limited social stratum. Certain aspects are emphasized in this discoursesuch as the tangibility, the aesthetics and the grandness of things. At the

    centre of this discourse is also the expert who is constructing their ownuniverse in the name of the nation state. Cultural heritage creates explicitboundaries around what is seen as historically important and valuable in anation and makes implicit statements about what does not count. It is anofficial practice, emanating from a modern way of thinking bearing strong

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    claims of truth.4 Cultural heritage is one of several actors who are shaping

    societal norms and models for what counts and what does not. It is a sortof official manual describing the important moments of the past that arecreated through the selection of certain parts.

    When a building becomes protected it passes through a metamorphosis.By this act it will all at once be transformed from one among many every-day artefacts into a particularly sanctioned thing of cultural heritage value.In this process the objects are not only given meaning in a simple sense inreference to the object itself, but in this context meaning is ascribed inways that transgress the object and will include more than can be read and

    decoded from the thing itself. Through the selection of object and the nar-ratives articulated in relation to it, assumptions of gender, class, ethnicityand nationality are linked.5 Things are assigned a symbolic meaning.

    This symbolic meaning can be seen as operating at three various levels oftime: the past, the present and the future. These three phases are mixed in acomplex way. In this process the past becomes materialized in the presentand is ascribed a meaning for the people living today. This meaning is notonly assigned to the past but also to the present and future. How we tellstories about the past will shape the boundaries of how we can grasp thepossibilities of the future, in Nietzsches sense (Nietzsche 1974:14).

    Critically analyses of official cultural heritage management are essentialbecause they have the ability to provide knowledge of the construction ofidentities being present in the narratives of the official authorities. Examin-ing these processes will have the potential to increase the understanding ofhow a specific nation and a national identity are createdin this case Nor-way and Norwegianessprocesses which have close points of similaritieswith representations in other Western countries. The Protection Orders areon the one hand a sort of indicator to identify the specific cultural imagi-naries of a nation, which on the other hand is something that is shared

    with other countries.

    The Context

    To start with some general ideas attached to the official documents ofexternal relevant public actors in this field, they are mostly very neutrallyheld from a linguistic point of view. Here and there the word mennesker(people) occur, which implicitly most frequently refers to white Norwegian


    More seldom other social or ethnic categories are the focus. If theyare, they are usually found in short passages reminding the reader of thefact that the Indigenous peoples cultural heritage and the national minori-ties heritage are not sufficiently regardedI will soon come back to ethniccategories. One of a few written texts which include formulations that

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    reflect an explicit awareness of womens history being poorly represented is

    the Report No. 39 (19861987) to the Storting (St.meld. nr 39). Thisreport originates from 1988 and according to the text a specific amount ofmoney (one million Norwegian crowns) was dedicated to promoting activ-ities and contributions paying attention to womens lives and history. Theonly result leaving explicitly articulated imprints that seem to have comeout of this specific venture was a seminar, which was held the same year,and a report from this event (Riksantikvaren 1988). It is uncertain whetherany other activities were carried out. No other publications or official doc-uments dealing with this theme have been found. Neither does any addi-

    tional funding appear to have been budgeted in order to encourage such apurpose.As a comparison it can be interesting to examine the official documents

    encompassing other areas of priority in the field of cultural heritage man-agement. The maritime field is one that can serve as an example. In thesame way as the above mentioned report to the Storting was focusing onwomens lives and history, ships have been specifically addressed in otherGovernmental writings (e.g. NOU 2002:1; St.meld. nr 16). The circum-stance that this area has been a masculine coded field7 is not emphasizedin these texts, in spite of the fact that men have dominated this occupa-tional group over the centuries, on deck as well as in commanding posi-tions at the captains bridge.

    This area isjust as womens lives and historya relatively newdomain which has been neglected for a long time and made invisible(Berkaak 1992), but they are each given priority in a Report to the Stort-ing. Apart from this the similarities seem to end.

    Scrutinizing the field of maritime cultural heritage a whole apparatus ofcultural heritage protection8 appears to have been launched. The manage-ment give the impression of having shown marked attention to the mari-

    time field amongst others by providing capital for restoration projects (270million Norwegian crowns) and executing Protection Orders. The recom-mendations in the report to the Storting have been transformed relativelypromptly into actual plans and these in their turn have been put into prac-tice by concrete actions. Guiding principles and regulations have been for-mulated and the contribution of fresh money has been made. A well-functioning mechanism for cultural heritage management seems to wheelforward. However, the system is not solely an apparatus for preservationand management for cultural heritage. It simultaneously functions as a sys-

    tem for cultural heritage production. Artefacts and environments are notonly being taken care of and preserved in this context, but are also createdas parts of a common cultural heritage.

    However, this apparatus of cultural heritage production and preserva-tion appears to be missing almost altogether as far as the field of womens

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    lives and history is concerned. Most likely some money must have been

    directed to projects during the years that could have been said to signifywomens history. However, if this has been done, it has neither been madevisible nor articulated. Nobody seems to have taken the trouble to make acompilation, count out the sums, dedicate one specific month to the themewomens lives and history, write articles which have been filed and madeaccessible on the web, in the same way as was done with the maritime her-itage. In other words, it is an indistinct area that appears not to have beenprivileged as an important part of the past.

    If we move our focus towards a document presenting the guiding prin-

    ciples and the needs for future knowledge which has been identified by theinstitution itself, matters get even worse as far as womens lives and historyare concerned, because in this context it is a non-question (Riksantikvaren2004). There are, however, some small bright spots in this documentproblematizing the strong connections between national Norwegianess andthe cultural heritage field, and a need is also articulated to map and get anoutline of the national minorities and immigrants cultural heritage.

    Even though no gender awareness is present, the sphere of Norwegiancultural heritage nevertheless slowly seems to become inhabited by groupsother than an ethnic white Norwegian. However, this writing is at the sametime complicated. The national minorities and the immigrants never seemto become a part of the national Norwegian. Even if they are present inthe Norwegian society they are all the same defined as being outsiders.Although they are interesting, they are after all entities positioned at theexterior. An undertow of thinking in terms of us versus them appearsto be present.

    The concept of representativeness, a term which in a Swedish, contextamongst others, is related to the democratic function of cultural heritage,9

    and which refers to everybodys right in a society to be able to identify

    with and benefit from the cultural heritageis in this context never explic-itly linked to questions of whose interests are being represented in the offi-cial cultural heritage sphere. In this writing an uncertainty about themeaning of the concept seems to be prevalent.

    In a later documentthe strategy for preservation (Riksantikvaren2005)published in January 2005 the concept of representation is, how-ever, dealt with more precisely. Representativeness in this context isdivided into two levels of meaning. One is concerned with an object-related level and the other with a more general level. In the first case the

    term refers to the need for the heritage authorities to cover a certainamount of types of objects in its stock. In the other case the discourse isrelated to phrases talking about social, ethnic groups and minorities, butnot explicitly in terms of the democratic function of cultural heritage. In

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    this context, just like in the documents examined above, gender aspects are

    lacking, although class and ethnicity seem to have gained traction.A similar pattern can be observed in a report published by the Norwe-gian Research Council (RCN), with the aim of mapping the need forknowledge in the field of cultural heritage (RCN 2004). The concept ofrepresentativeness does not occur in this text at all and neither does theterm democracy. On the other hand a discourse of diversity has found itsway into the writing and the need to pay attention to cultural diversityand to include the cultural heritage of the Sami people, the nationalminorities and new ethnic groups are emphasized. This indicates an identi-

    fication of an existing lack of awareness of these aspects in the present her-itage management field. However, gender aspects are not mentioned in thiscontext either. Just like in the other documents this seems to be a non-existing question.

    However, 4 years later something appears to have happened. In a callfor funding projects in the field of cultural heritage launched in 2008 gen-der has finally found its way into the writings. In the call the term genderappears on page 18 (RCN 2008). However, it is not to be found amongthe main perspectives emphasized, nor among the intermediate strategic orsubject related goals, nor among any other leading goal. The concept ofgender is only mentioned once in this 28 pages document. It is listed asone of many sub-questions that would be interesting to ask in a Sami con-text.

    Questions dealing with gender aspects are consequently deported tothe ethnic Other. This is extremely problematic, as it makes the questionof gender into something exclusively related to the ethic Other, but isnever related to the ethnic white Norwegian societys memory of culturalheritage. The normative white Norwegian remains untouched by all theinsights that gender analyses can bring. Instead, the gender aspects are

    pasted on to ethnic Others, who become the carriers not solely of ethnicmarkers by also the markers of gender. This way of thinking can be under-stood as part of unconscious processes deeply rooted in Norway as well asin many other Western countries (cf. Irigaray 1974; Said 1978).

    This does not mean that it is in general inappropriate to bring genderaspects up for discussion in relation to groups of other ethnicity than thewhite Norwegian. Of course it can be equally relevant in both cases. Theproblem is that in this case gender becomes an exclusive question for theethnic Other but never touches the majority of the society.

    The website of the Directorate for Cultural Heritages has also beenexamined briefly, focusing on the narratives being linked to archaeologicalsites and environments. In these texts explicit actors are to a large extentmissing. They are neither visible as actors in relation to the contextsdescribed nor visible as authors of the texts. The narratives are largely

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    constructed in accordance with the principles of the modern project.

    Everything is written in the name of the institution. An anonymous andauthoritarian voice is talking, which gives legitimacy to the narrative, whichgives it an impression of being the truth. This is a characteristic of modernthought (see e.g. Latour 1993; Smith 2006) and is a perspective that thewhole apparatus of cultural heritage production is created in accordancewith, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century (Hoo-per-Greenhill 2000).

    Even if the actors to a high degree are explicitly invisible in the writtenmaterial, they nevertheless appear implicitly and become readable. The

    houses, the places and the artefacts given expression reveal whose history isbeing told. Here, buildings owned by former kings and bishops are mixedwith trading posts, churches, poniards and boat axesartefacts and envi-ronments traditionally linked to a masculine sphere, with connotations toa quite wealthy, white, Norwegian male part of the population.

    Of course, neither buildings, nor places or artefacts are bound to have ahistory exclusively connected to men. The problem is that previousresearch has shown that if no explicit alternative articulation exists theviewer tends to make a reading in accordance with an already dominatingmatrix (cp. Adolfsson 1987; Losnedahl 1993; Porter 1988, 1996). The pre-vailing system of gender power relations tends to form a filter throughwhich the past is easiest understood and the preferred meaning is con-structed. Alternative readings will have a hard time emerging in an alreadynaturalized and self-evident context.

    The Protection Orders

    A Protection Order is the strongest executive tool the authorities have in

    order to protect what is understood to be particularly valuable objects ofcultural heritage. Examining the institutionally sanctioned historical build-ings and environments will have a potential to chisel out a condensed pic-ture of the collective memory in a society. It is the manifest meaning thatthe official sources taken together are pointing at, that will be scrutinized.Here is a key to understanding the essence of the normative Norwegianidentity and society, but it gives at the same time an opportunity to seewho is excluded from the official actors historiography. Whose historyand interests are being privileged, and whose are not included in the public

    representation of what is worth remembering?In this study, I have examined both the popular versions of the Protec-

    tion orders and the more detailed resolutions during 11 years, from 1997to 2008. The popular versions can be found at the website of the Director-ate10 and from here, a link will lead the visitor further into the material.

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    The popular version is interesting as it will probably be the first written

    source concerned with the protection that the general public will meet.The Protection orders will thereby play an active part in creating the cul-tural imaginary of what is worth remembering and whose memorials aremost valuable. The more detailed resolutions will be able to deepen theunderstanding and provide additional information.

    Just like the material, in general at the website of the Directorate, mostoften an authoritarian and anonymous voice is present using a languagethat transmits an impression that decisions are rationally founded. Sectionsof law, counting of numbers and stating of years seem to be necessary

    ingredients in almost all Protection orders. Architectural elements and typeof styles belonging to specific art historical epochs are lined up and therhetoric of authenticity is striking. People on the other hand get a subordi-nate position, with a few exceptions discussed below. A discourse charac-terized by ideas emanating from the modern project seems to be aguiding-star in these writings as well. A more detailed reading will uncoverthat the preservations are nevertheless linked to certain social categoriesboth explicitly and implicitly.

    The Memorable Worker

    One starting point in order to catch sight of the human subjects and theirsocial context could be to examine which kind of working places have beenprotected and which professional categories have been discursively privi-leged in the Protection Orders. However, no working place seems to havebeen protected because of the link to any particular occupational group.This is especially clear when looking for places where women have worked.Presumably some of the protected working places ought to have had

    female workers and this might be tacitly recognised by someone with adeep knowledge of the Norwegian womens industrial history. For thoselacking such knowledge former female labour places never will appear onthe map of cultural memorials. Guesses can at the best fill in the gaps, forexample that women probably worked at Engene old dynamite factory,protected in 2009, in conformity with other contemporary dynamite facto-ries in the Nordic countries. However, nothing in the text indicates thatthis would have been the case and if women had worked there this factdoes not appear to have been a crucial motive for the protection as such.

    As shown above this is problematic, as things that are not being articulatedare usually interpreted in accordance to the already existing matrix. All inall the places being identified as culturally memorable are gender neutrallydescribed, but just like the maritime heritage previously described, they are

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    at the same time associated with traditionally masculine occupational

    groups.Going through the Protection Orders one more time I all of a suddenbelieve to have found a working place in which women have been predom-inating. It is a Protection Order made in 2007 of the hospital in Halden.The whole health care sector, including hospitals, have been a women-dominating working sector, but reading the text linked to this specific Pro-tection Order it quite soon becomes obvious that this has nothing to dowith the protection. The hospital is protected because it is one of the mostcharacteristic and best preserved examples of hospital architecture in Nor-

    way and it symbolises the emergence of the welfare state. Instead of thefemale workers the subject and main actor in the text is the architect whois presented by his full name. The mans full name is even dedicated a spe-cial title in the more popular version of the Protection Order. The mansprofessional lifework is made visible and he is discursively described as anauthority and an active debater in the field of architecture. His buildingsare said to have great architectural qualities. It is consequently not a pro-tection based on the fact that the hospital is and has been a working placein which women have been predominating, but a protection showing thepower and success of a male architect with authority. Discursively the suc-cessful Norwegian male architect appears as the single actor. The whiteNorwegian outstanding man seems to be revisiting the field.

    However, a wide range of male predominating working places exist inthe material, for instance station buildings. In 2002 no fewer than 12 wereprotected. Among other working places traditionally connected to a mascu-line sphere a power station, a police station and military buildings can forexample be found. At all these working places many different professionalgroups have been present, from high to low rank. Most often no particulargroup has been accentuated in the textsapart from the architects, a phe-

    nomenon I will come back to. Neither stationmasters, captains, police offi-cers nor generals appear in the texts and neither do workers. Even if theworking places are traditionally masculine coded a high degree of anonym-ity still seems to exist.

    However, one Protection Order appears to be an exception to this rhet-oric. Already the title assigned to the protection signals a different focus:Protection order of the Labour Association in Aalesund. The text explainsthat this building in popular speech is called the Labourer. This might bethe exception from the rule of the lack of articulation of professions apart

    from architects. The building was protected in 1997. A little surprising,nothing in the text exposes what kind of workers this building was a resi-dence for and nothing indicates if the workers were men, women or both.Additional information about this labour association seems to be difficultto find, even on the web. After a long search one article finally was found

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    written in a regional magazine of Rotary Aalesund and all of a sudden the

    outline of the labourer in the protected building becomes more distinct. Itdoes not seem to be any kind of workers that used to dwell in this build-ing, but : the association had members that were centrally stationed inleading positions: academics, public officials within the municipal administra-tion and the leading figures in the citys business world (Lmo 2003). Theassociation was, according to the author, founded by the right wing move-ment as an effort to neutralize the more radical left wing elements in thetrade union movement. This explains the grand, not to say magnificent,building. It is impressively large and richly decorated with large columns

    and amongst others a relief of a Viking ship and a lighthouse on the fac-ade. Already from the very start the building was used to practice variouscultural activities, such as theatre, concerts, exhibitions and recitations.This makes it plausible to believe that the worker in question was repre-sented by the upper classes. Furthermore the professional groups men-tioned above were probably exclusively masculine coded in Norway by thistime, just as in Sweden where women neither had an evident right toattend the universities nor to hold an official position in the state or thelocal governments and very seldom had a leading position in private com-merce and industry.

    On closer examination the worker in question does not appear to beclose to anything that is usually regarded to be a worker. Instead thewhite-collar men stand out as representatives of the well-to-do professionalgroups in the society. The author of the article wonders at the choice ofthe name of the building and concludes with the following phrase: Onecan wonder at Aalesunds Labour Associations leading role, and to an even

    greater extent at the name, as the leading figures belonged to the right wing(Lmo 2003). Gender, class and political preferences seem to walk hand inhand and to be united in a gathering of right-wing sympathizing men in

    leading positions in society, who have taken rhetorical command of the lit-eral distinguishing mark of the working class.

    The text at the Directorates webpage does not reveal anything relatedto the content of the above article. This might be due to the possibilitythat all Norwegian inhabitants already know this story and that it is under-stood even if that is not a very plausible explanation. However, those lack-ing the specific knowledge will not be able to make a meaningful readingof the text.

    Returning to the text at the Directorates webpage, two persons are

    named. They are the architects that made the drawing of the building.Besides this they are also discursively linked to some other buildings theyhave drawn in the city: the Bank of Norway and The Kings Street nr 1. Anair of wealth, splendour and upper class is created. The text concludes thatthe Labourer is the finest public assembly room in Norway with an interior

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    of Art Nouveau. Maybe keywords, such as the names of the architects, the

    striking buildings, the finest assembly room etc. immediately should haveannounced that the Labourer in Aaleesund was a euphemism for an elitepaper pusher at the opposite side of the traditional class distinction. How-ever, this will not be the case for those who do not own that knowledge inadvance.

    Even if further examination is needed to state whether the examplesabove are parts of a larger pattern or pure coincidences, there seems toexist a class-related bias with masculine overtones that are cut into thememory of the Norwegian nation, according to the previous findings.

    Class, gender and nation are pieces in a jigsaw puzzle that have growntogether in an imagined Norwegian community (cp. Anderson 1991). Thisimagined community seems to a high degree to be composed of the ethni-cally white Norwegian men belonging to the upper social stratum and pos-sessing a work position.

    The Memorable Human Being

    Returning to the Protection Orders a systematic analysis of the texts hasbeen accomplished, starting with the most recent year 2008 in order tofind out how representations of people are constructed. To start with themost recent year available at the time of this study has been a consciousdecision, because the latest protections will have a greater potential toreflect some of the current academic and societal discourse related to gen-der, ethnicity, class etc. It is not especially remarkable or strange that thecultural heritage selection processes at the initial stages of the cultural heri-tage field in the beginning of the last century bear a bias, whereas it wouldbe more intricate and problematic if this is still the case today. This makes

    it important to scrutinize the very recent Protection Orders.When this study was carried through the latest Protection Orders at the

    website of the Directorate for Cultural Heritage derive from July, 2008 anda building called Hallengarden in Oslo is the focus of attention. Accordingto the text it is a shop that is characteristic for its time. Already in theintroduction, accentuated with a bold typeface, it is clear that this sitespreservation is linked up with a person. And once again it is the malearchitect who gets to take a step forward and the architectural value whichis emphasized. By clicking on to the very formal decision documents the

    masculine focus becomes even more evident. In this document severalother men are paid attention to by being named, firstly a male artist whohas made a mural painting inside the house, secondly two former ownerswhose last name appears to have given the building its name and thirdlythe current owner.

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    The next Protection Order in the list is the House Stenersen, which fol-

    lows the same pattern. It is the male architect whose name and work areemphasized first in the introduction at the website. In contrast to the justreferred example above, the former owner whose last name the house isnamed after, is brought to life quite early in the popular version at thewebsite right after the architect. Here we learn not only his full name, butalso his profession and the fact that he had expensive habits. He was afinancier and an art collector. He donated the house to the state with arequest that the house should be used as either a state apartment or theresidence of the Prime Minister. His wish however, was not fulfilled as the

    house was turned into a meeting place for architecture, design and culture.In the formal document of decision the architect is further attributed withthe expressions internationally oriented, one of the greatest profession-als of his time, and the building is referred to as one of the most impor-tant contributions to the international modernistic styles in Norway in the1930s. Here masculinity is tied with excellent aesthetic taste, successful pro-fessional men, Norwegian nationality, international orientation, wealth, art,political elite, and a meeting point for highly advanced aesthetic design.

    The following two cases of preservation in the list show the same kindof narrative. In accordance with the previous pattern the representations ofthe human beings in these texts are characterized by a combination of thesocial categories masculinity, the architectural profession and a successfulprofession. One after another the Protection Orders seem to reinforce andstrengthen each other, especially in relation to making the male architectand his work the principal character of the narrative.

    The safeguarding of forty bridges at once follows these order of preser-vation. In this context no architects, customers or users are mentioned.The text is formulated in a very matter-of-fact-manner and the presence ofemotionally charged expressions are minimal. The bridges represent the

    historical development of the national road network. Implicitly, however,the male engineer is made visible in this example. Previous research hasshown that this profession was for a long time reserved for men and hasrepresented a main component in the construction of masculinity (see forexample Berner 1996; Ek-Nilsson 1999). By indirect means the construc-tion of masculinity is reproduced in combination with technical buildingsand historical evolution, even if it is given an anonymous form. Concur-rently with a weakening impact of linkage to the Norwegian upper class,the personal narratives also seem to decrease.

    The next preservation is a building at Fredensborgsveien 5, in Oslo, andit is a very rare representative of a suburban workers dwelling from the18th and 19th century. According to the narrative, the inhabitants seem tohave been exclusively male artisans. There is no articulation what-so-everof any families living and working at the same place, which was common

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    in relation to artisans dwellings. The text is filled with carpenters, armour-

    ers, and various other craftsmen. Here are stonecutters, undertakers, andcoffin makers. None of them are named. A socially non-contextualized andanonymous male artisan living in a world without women and childrenappears in this narrative. In this text it becomes perhaps even clearer thanin previous examples that class and the form of representation an actor isgiven, are strongly linked together. The higher the societal class the moredeveloped are the person-related narratives. The lower the societal class thegreater the anonymity.

    Another example of an artisans dwelling from the same period is the

    following Protection Order of Hvedingsveita 8 in Trondheim, but in thistext it is emphasized that the domestic part and the workshop were placedclosely together. None-the-less, nothing is articulated about any actorsother than men, who for instance are described as painters and carpen-terstraditionally male occupationsin the workshop. The domestic partis depicted only as a place to live. Going further into the formal documentsthis does not change. The only difference is that here one of the artisans ismentioned by name and title. This case is a striking example of how mas-culinity seems to be constructed in isolation from all that ever couldinclude the feminine.

    This is followed by yet another safeguarding of an artisans building inthe same town at vre Bakklandet 33. This is articulated as an architectur-ally and cultural historically very important example of building. Variousforms of artisanship appear to have been carried out here and just as theprevious two examples the domestic part is placed in close relation to theworking place. The activity has been going on from the middle of the 20thcentury until the 1970s and among the trades mentioned at least two ofthem could have included women, namely when the building contained amilk store and a laundry. However, nothing is mentioned of womens

    workplaces. Instead the two examples of former activity in the building areframed by a long row of traditionally male artisans jobs, which makes thepresumably female element disappear from the heritage memorial map.The artisans seem to be exclusively masculine constructions. In the moredetailed formal document the masculine feature becomes even more evi-dent. In this text a general of noble birth who was a proponent of a strictlyregulated city plan is mentioned by full name several times, although thisstrict way of regulating was the exact opposite to this preserved part of thetown. In other words, a man from the upper class is made an actor in the

    text, in spite of the fact that he has no direct link to the building or thespecific area of the town. The privileging of the combination of high socialclass and male gender is obvious. In this document the two men that origi-nally built the artisans dwelling, and one of the artisans working there, arealso mentioned by full names. Masculinity is in this context clearly linked

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    to full names, titles, building constructions and strict regulation. The world

    that is to be remembered appears again to be drained of women.The next preservation in the list is the whole area surrounding the for-mer Bank Square in Oslo, now occupied by the Norwegian museum ofarchitecture. The place embraces older as well as newer architecture. Thearchitect who has contributed with the later parts is assigned his full nameand is emphasized quite early in the popular narrative at the Directorateswebsite. This is followed by an articulation of the architect of the earlierparts of the building. The preservation act is explicitly linked to the archi-tects and their work as personal achievements. The text tells the reader that

    the two architectural styles bring out the best in each other and that this isa very important example worth remembering in architectural and culturalhistory. In the formal documents the younger architect is in particularhonoured by statements such as the most well-known of our time andthe most prize-awarded Norwegian architect. Once again the constructionof masculinity is combined with successful, award winning, well-known,well-educated white Norwegian men who have left considerable materialtraces in the social world.

    The following preserved site in the list of 2008 is the fire station Skan-sen in Bergen. Just as the bridges mentioned earlier, this is an example ofthe technicalindustrial cultural heritage. The techno-industrial sphere, aswell as this particular example of a fire station is a highly masculine codedarea. Today fire fighters are still predominantly men. This increases theappearance of a strictly male dominated arena. The cultural, historical, andarchitectonical values are accentuated. Only one person is named and thatis the architect again, just as in the previous cases. In this instance, how-ever, nothing is said about his person or his professional position, in con-trast to the majority of the above narratives surrounding the Norwegianarchitects. The positively charged adjectives are not prevalent and the

    prime articulated value of this fire station is implied in the completeness ofthe building. Just as in connection with the bridges the tone of the narra-tive is much more a matter-of-fact account than the other protections.Explicitly the construction of masculinity is reinforced by linking the malearchitect to this text, while it is also implicitly strengthened by the choiceof a traditionally masculine sphere.

    According to the examination above, the memorable human being isunquestionably a man who in addition is well-to-do and well educated.Even if a male worker occasionally gets represented by a conservative

    white-collar association, he remains mute, anonymous, and deprived of hisown voice. This is above all a world without women, drained of all thatever was connected to the feminine. Class and gender seem to structurethe narratives produced.

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    The Ethnic Other Woman

    However, one exception for this rhetoric that to a certain extent differsfrom the above examples exists. It is the last protection examined from2008, Gressamoen fjellgard, a small high mountain farm also functioningas a carriage station. The narrative surrounding this preservation differsfrom the earlier descriptions, because it makes a crack in the exclusivelyethnic white Norwegian narrative as the Sami People enter the story.

    The protection is, according to the popular presentation, said to sym-bolize the contact between the Sami People and settlers. The text also men-

    tions that a name of a place to the east of the settlement indicates thatSami People have had a settlement here. However, this is not the focus ofthe narrative. Instead, the text is centred on the carriage station and thewhite Norwegian settlement.

    Only two sentencesor 15% of the whole textdeal with the Samiconnection. The rest of the text maps out a white Norwegian territory.Here the first white Norwegian man who ran the carriage station is empha-sized. Then the preservation of their first buildings is highlighted. Hereafterthe presumed Sami settlement is mentioned incidentally. There are smallbut important significant wordings that in a fundamental way differentiatethe two descriptions. Apart from the fact that the white Norwegian is thefirst thing to be addressed, the first sentence referring to the Sami Peoplestarts with the conjunction in addition, as indicating that something isadded, a side issue. This additional history is a known excluding practice(see for instance Hirdman 1993; cp. also Grahn 2004, 2006, 2007). Thispattern seems to be reproduced here related to the Ethnic Others.

    The second sentence referring to the Sami People is spelled out underthe heading Kveilestue fra 1600-talet, which translates as Resting cottage

    from the seventeenth century. According to some maps, a resting cottage is

    said to have been situated at this place before the settlement Gressamoenwas founded. This cottage is furthermore discursively secluded from theSami context, which in the last sentence of this paragraph instead is articu-lated to have been situated to the east of the referred place. The Sami Peo-ples heritage becomes in this setting an example of something else,something that is located outside and on the other side of the preservedboundary. It becomes the reflection of the Other as the opposite, con-firming what the white Norwegian is not (cp. Irigaray 1974). However,long before the last sentence in this paragraph comes to talk about the

    Sami People, the narrative has already constructed a genealogical story of awhite Norwegian territory.

    This move might not immediately be obvious because of a skilfullyadopted rhetoric. It is accomplished by making the cottage self-evident, by

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    describing it as a natural stop located half-way on the mountain. Of

    course, it was situated half-way for those passing the mountain from oneside to the other, but not necessary for those living on the mountain.Going further into the formal documents the story again can be seen as

    being partly nuanced, even if the story of the cottage still is the naturalstarting point. What makes the narrative different is that an articulation ismade explicit of this whole area as being an old South Sami territory. It issaid to be used by the Sami People since the 17th century and most likelyeven before that time. Even if it is not made explicit this information allthe same indicates that this was Sami land long before any evidence of the

    resting cottage existed. This also implies that Sami People have not onlybeen present to the east of the now safeguarded area, but also inside this

    territory. This fact questions the self-evidence by which the cottage hasbeen discursively located on the midway as a natural stop for everybody.For the Sami People living in this area the cottage would probably moreaccurately have been located in the middle of or inside their territory.

    This emphasizes that the story is constructed from a white Norwegianpoint of view, even if, at the same time, there seems to have existed anintention to include the Sami past in the narrative. It simultaneously makesit clear that it is important for any author to situate consciously andexplicitly the perspective and point of view from which the narrative isproduced (cp. Haraway 1991:183201). The narrative above is probably aresult of unconscious processes, but this does not make it less effective orfrightening. On the contrary, it gives expression to a generally problematicpredominant imaginary of the Other revealing deep problems whenscrutinized.

    Another displacement of meaning that seems to be built into the formaldocuments is executed by the technique of separation of the facts indicat-ing a Sami presence in this territory. The two sequences considering a Sami

    past are rhetorically split into different parts of the text. The first sequenceindicates a Sami presence but locates it outside the safeguarded area, justas in the popular version mentioned above. The next time the Sami Peopleappears in the text is not until the following page. In this context, they areindeed located within the area, but the two sequences are divided by a longepisode describing the white Norwegian process of colonization of theland. The first settler is given a full name. The land is furthermore charac-terized as the states common land, that is white Norwegian property. Thefirst white Norwegian settler is said to have been given a legal document to

    start the settlementa bygselbrevand a legal right to the land from thekinga kongeskjtewhich maps the territory as a general white Norwe-gian property, a no mans land which rightfully has been taken posses-sion of by this man, and this is a fact that can be proved by written legallyvalid documents and maps.

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    The ground is white Norwegian as its point of departure. The same goes

    for the articulated rules of the game. As a side issue, a Sami court is alsosaid to exist. However, this does not seem to be one in regular use. TheSami past is something constructed in opposition, as something exotic thatdoes not really belong to the centre of the story. A white Norwegian pro-cess of colonization has the prime role in this narrative.

    Even if the rhetoric is founded on a white Norwegian perspective, therenevertheless seems to exist an intention to include the Sami Peoples pastin the narrative. The formal documents include several examples of this. Atthe end, a Sami woman appears, Malena Thorkelsen (18721954), and she

    is assigned a first name as well as a last name. She was a widow with tenchildren and her main settlement was situated one kilometre south east ofGressamoen.

    This place is also described, but it includes some problematic passages.For some unknown reason the Sami woman loses her last name after awhile and is only referred to by her first name. This does not happen toany of the men mentioned in the text. Previous research has shown thatthis is not a coincidence, but a pattern and a mechanism of power bywhich women are made subordinate. This can also happen to men if theybelong to an ethnic minority (see for example Grahn 2006). Men in partic-ular belonging to the upper strata on the other hand usually get presentedwith a full name, title, biography and are ascribed various positivelycharged judgements, which has been shown above. This becomes particu-larly obvious as the just referred Sami woman is the only woman evermentioned among the protections examined in 2008 and one of the fewmentioned in the whole material of 11 years.

    The other problematic issue is that her settlement is not included in theprotection area. It is situated just outside the border, but ends up on thewrong side. The text does not comment on this fact so the reason why is

    unknown. However, maybe the main part of her settlement is older than100 years and thereby automatically protected according to Norwegian law.However, if so, nothing about it is mentioned in the text. In any case, notall of the buildings would fall under this law, as for instance a buildingmentioned to be put up by the woman in 1937. This means it is only 70

    years old. Neither does it include the buildings put up by the SamiSchoolwho uses the place today. Maybe the Sami representatives did notwant this location to be protected because the use of the place might berestricted. Whatever reason, the reader never gets to know, because nothing

    in the text gives any clue.Even if a good intention to include the Sami history in the Grand

    national narrative seems to have been present the story neverthelessbecomes additive. It is presented as an aside from the major storyin the

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    gian collective identity. It is a dark continent12 outside the borders of the

    nation. In an equally natural way the well-to-do, well-educated whiteNorwegian men are included in a knowledge regime privileging these socialcategories and thereby creating them as symbols of the national Norwegianidentity. Identities are shaped at the intersection of several structures ofpower, which cooperate to reinforce subordination or to privilege. Thiscan be seen as a key to understanding the effects of power, which appearto be as present in the field of cultural heritage management as in otherplaces.

    This pattern in not solely characteristic for Norway, but seems to be a

    recurrent trait in a grand Western narrative of who we are. It is a partof a Western rhetoric (see for example, Aronsson and Meurling 2005; Har-away 1989; Landzelius 1999; Pearce 1997; Porter 1996; Smith 2006). It is apart of an obsolete way of thinking that appears, nonetheless, to be alivestill.


    Irrespective of which of the above mentioned understandings of the uncov-ered patterns are preferredif anythe examination calls upon the heri-tage authorities to apply a more reflexive approach towards the field, notonly in terms of finding and including material objects related to previ-ously disregarded groups, but above all to reflect upon the way the autho-rized heritage discourse is constructed. It is not only a question abouttangible things, but also the intangible. In other words how to talk aboutthe objects, which stories to connect and which to exclude. With anotherlanguage, another focus and a richer contextualization the texts examinedcould have been much more nuanced and could have included many more

    social categories. With a narrative taking for instance a women-dominatingworking sector as a starting point for the protection of Halden hospitalwould have constituted a much more refined and inclusive discourse. Anarrative recognizing, for example, the Sami peoples right to territorywould make the white Norwegian societys colonization visible. By treatingthe name of the Sami woman with the same respect as the articulation ofthe names of the white Norwegian men and making explicit why her settle-ment was not included in the protectionor if feasible including her set-tlement in the protectiona more inclusive discourse would have been

    constructed.However, no efforts to construct a more inclusive discourse seem to be

    made. This study shows that only narrow parts of the Norwegian culturalheritage are represented in the examined Protection Orders. There neitherseems to be any room for the heritage of the indigenous Sami People, nor

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    any minorities. Only rarely is the protected cultural heritage representative

    of men from the working classes, and if such men are remembered theyare usually described as a mute and anonymous group. The collectivememory of Norwegianess is above all symbolized by a white Norwegianmale from the elite strata of society who has left material traces that havebeen assigned as cultural heritage and thereby worthy of preservation.

    The lack of protection of buildings and sites that can be linked towomens lives and work is the most striking result of this examination.Women appear only as an exception and in those cases usually in margin-alized positions such as the Sami woman referred to above. Gender, class,

    ethnical belonging and nationality are intertwined in the public grand nar-rative emanating from the memory of a white Norwegian well-to-do man.In spite of the strong articulation of the specific nationally Norwegian

    imaginary, this image is not exclusively characteristic for Norway. In astrange way, every Western nation tends to shape their peculiar nationalhistory in accordance to much of the same matrixes, often only allowingminor variations.


    1. Women still have a subordinate position compared to men in many ways in

    Norway today, similarly to many other countries. A large amount of research

    existing today showing this. Women still have lower average income than

    men. Women are still underrepresented at a political level. In the Norwegian

    Parliament (Stortinget) 61% of the members are men, but only 39% women.

    Women carry out the major part of the unpaid domestic work. This, and

    many more facts, can be found at the website of Statistics Norway (Statistisk

    sentralbyra) Those who are not familiar with

    the discussion of the general power structures in the Nordic countries might

    also find it worthwhile to study the Swedish Government Official Report on

    womens power (SOU 1998:6). There are close points of similarities between

    Sweden and Norway which makes it possible to translate the conditions dis-

    cussed in this report into a Norwegian context.

    2. Only in Sweden between 50 and 90 dissertations are produced each year.

    3. This article derives from an investigation and a report written in Swed-

    ishGrahn (2009)which can be found on the following web address:


    4. See e.g. Hooper-Greenhill (1992), Bennett (1995), Amundsen and Brenna

    (2003) and Smith (2006).

    5. In other contexts other aspects are present, but in this context I have chosen

    these social categories as they are manifest in this particular material.

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    6. The concept of white Norwegian has been selected in order to visualize the

    ethnic dimension in the prevailing idea of Norwegianess. Most often the eth-nicity of the majority of the society is made invisible, whereas minorities are

    constructed as the ethnic Other. This construction of ethnic difference is

    repeatedly made on the basis of the colour of individuals skin and forms an

    essential part of a racist discourse (see e.g. Molina 2005). Of all the ethic

    markers the ethnic whiteness is particularly unmarked, but serves at the same

    time as a powerful but indiscernible norm (cp. Dyer 1997; Frankenberg

    1993). In order to emphasize and make the whiteness of the majority in Nor-

    way visible, the concept of white Norwegian has been selected.

    7. See e.g. Berggreen (1992), Burton (1999), Creighton and Norling (1996) and

    Kaijser (2005).8. Cp. with Donna Haraways expression apparatus of bodily production

    (1991), a concept being used and developed by amongst others Barad (2007).

    It is as an apparatus of production being formed by political, economic, lin-

    guistic, social and material relations, which results in various processes of

    regulation, exclusion and inclusion. The field of cultural heritage could be

    perceived as such an apparatus, in which cultural heritage not only is pre-

    served, but to a high degree is also created. This phenomenon I have called

    the apparatus/system of cultural heritage production, inspired by Haraway

    and Barad.

    9. More about the democratic function of cultural heritage can be seen in e.g.SOU (1999:18), Pripp et al. (2004), Grahn (2006, 2007, 2009) and SOU



    11. As mentioned above this is one of several perspectives. For more about vari-

    ous forms of gender perspectives see e.g. Gemzoe (2002), Thuren (2003),

    Grahn (2006, 2009).

    12. Cp. Johannisson (1994).


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