By improving our understanding of how the tangible and intangible dimensions of heritage are correlated, we could develop a relationship with heritage that goes beyond the mere act of conservation. This book argues that we need to recognize the historic monument as a tangible aspect of a holistic expression of culture that is rooted in specific spatio-temporal conditions. However, since the latter are constantly changing, it is vital to identify an implicit contradiction with the goals of conservation. As the intangible dimensions are more dynamic, driven by the transmission, reception, and advancement of knowledge, the reliance of the prevailing treatment of heritage today, conservation, ossifies this relationship. By examining three major heritage monuments - the Pantheon, Teotihuacan's Sun Pyramid and Alhambra - the book shows how these sites are the product of multiple strategies and unforeseen agents, accumulated through history. It emphasizes how these historical trends need to be better understood in order to attain a more 'organic' relationship with heritage and offers some recommendations that should be analyzed in participative processes of deliberation: the Pantheon's continuity could be extended; the Pyramid's loss, accepted; and Alhambra's exclusion, reversed. In this way, the book invites people to engage heritage from a historical understanding that is open to critical reassessment, dialogue, and cooperation.
Dr Ilan Vit-Suzan is a lecturer in Architecture at the Escuela Nacional de ConservaciÃ³n, RestauraciÃ³n y MuseografÃa ’Manuel del Castillo Negrete’, INAH-UNESCO, Mexico.