After Heritage
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After Heritage

Critical Perspectives on Heritage from Below

Edited by Hamzah Muzaini and Claudio Minca

Focusing on the practices and politics of heritage-making at the individual and the local level, this book uses a wide array of international case studies to argue for their potential not only to disrupt but also to complement formal heritage-making in public spaces. Providing a much-needed clarion call to reinsert the individual as well as the transient into more collective heritage processes and practices, this strong contribution to the field of Critical Heritage Studies offers insight into benefits of the ‘heritage from below approach’ for researchers, policy makers and practitioners.
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Chapter 3: Motorbikes as ‘aspirational’ heritage: rethinking past, present and future in Vietnam

Jamie Gillen

Abstract

In Vietnam, the motorbike presents a paradox: it is the fundamental mode of transportation throughout the country yet it is also a relatively recent entrant into the country’s transport market. It is one of the country’s most important signs of class, mobility and identity yet it is already being replaced in stature by the automobile. It is a representation of timelessness and newness; it is both the cornerstone of Vietnamese mobility and rejected as being out of date. This chapter considers the construction of heritage in Vietnam against the tensions inherent to the motorbike through a framework of ‘aspirational heritage’. The author challenges the idea that heritage is something with a strong historical dimension and instead focuses on the ways in which heritage is constructed in the present and shapes the future. In imagining and practicing the motorbike as something basic to ‘Vietnameseness’, though also fleeting to that identity, the author argues that heritage ‘from below’ demonstrates the arbitrary temporalities and memory-making machinery at play in conventional understandings of heritage.

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