Celebration and erasure : heritage in nation-building processes in the Americas

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2023-08-13

Authors

Cortizo de Aguiar, Barbara

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Abstract

In this dissertation, I discuss the role of architecture and cultural landscape in our continent’s national identity creation and nation-building processes. More specifically, I examine the creation of national heritage institutes in the United States and Brazil in the early 1900s to show how these countries imagined their national identity through preservation endeavors and the built environment. As these processes might be understood through the countries’ spatial occupation, I argue that their national heritages were defined as landscapes and buildings, respectively. I analyze how the National Park Service and the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico Artístico Nacional were partially responsible for crafting the countries’ national identities by preserving the mostly white aspects of their histories. This comparative study explores the geopolitics of heritage in the Americas, discussing how heritage was thought and practiced hemispherically under social and racial backgrounds. Governments and national institutions decide what aspects will be excluded from their narrative by acclaiming certain events and celebrating them as heritage. With this premise in mind, I seek to understand how two different countries created two different foundation myths that have since been used to define national identity and values. I look at national heritage studies by discussing celebration and erasure in national heritage narratives.

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