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From theatre to labyrinth: in pursuit of critical engagement with archaeological heritage

Ntzani, Dimitra ORCID: 2016. From theatre to labyrinth: in pursuit of critical engagement with archaeological heritage. PhD Thesis, University of Edinburgh.

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In western cultural institutions, meaningful interaction with remains of the past is predominantly discussed as engagement with heritage. The complex metaphor helps us conceptualise the abstract notion of interaction as engagement, an obligation or a state of captivity, and remains of the past as heritage, a series of possessions transferred from time-past to present. The thesis takes a cognitive linguistics approach to examine both primary and complex spatial metaphors that support western conceptualisations of interaction with past remains. It also employs the means of cognitive ethnography to examine their effects on two ecologies of engagement: (i) a storytelling and object handling workshop hosted in the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, and (ii) a workshop of archaeological practices held in the moorlands of Caithness. The passage from public to professional ecologies serves the identification of those spatial metaphors, conditions and practices that can support critical engagement with archaeological heritage. In the thesis, I suggest that, in western tradition, time-past is predominantly conceptualised as a constraining space, and interaction with its remains as a form of captivity: of containment in, entanglement with and overview of a constraining past locus. These three spatial metaphors give rise to at least two more complex ones, to past as a theatre and past as a labyrinth. While the theatrical metaphor dominates the design of public engagement programmes, the ethnographic investigation reveals that practices of professional engagement are mainly shaped by the labyrinthine metaphor. It also shows that while the theatrical and the labyrinthine metaphors are reverse syntheses of the three captivity metaphors, each of them addresses past spaces with different needs and qualities. The theatrical metaphor supports the immersive confinement of the heritage audience in coherent and delineated past locis, and by extension its engagement with a familiar heritage. In contrast, the labyrinthine metaphor shapes the adventurous exploration and the distant examination of obscure and open-ended past locis by heritage professionals, and therefore their engagement with an unfamiliar heritage. In the thesis, I ultimately conclude that the labyrinthine metaphor juxtaposes the risky flights of Daedalus and the entangled explorations of Theseus and Ariadne to the safe confinement of the Minotaur. It therefore gives rise to cultural practices that can support critical and enquiring forms of engagement, by helping us to transgress our inherently contested heritage before we surrender to its coherent versions.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Publisher: The University of Edinburgh
Related URLs:
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 21 March 2019
Date of Acceptance: 4 July 2017
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2022 11:50

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