Conference Paper (unpublished)

Absent presence in the authorised heritage discourse



Ramsay R (2018) Absent presence in the authorised heritage discourse. Alienation, communication, coexistence (SGSAH 2nd Year Symposium), Teacher Building, Glasgow, 18.06.2018-18.06.2018.

Heritage is an active process in the present, whereby aspects of our past are selected to be conserved for the future. Heritage, therefore, is not a neutral inheritance from the past, but an ongoing process through which the stories of our past are shaped in the present, for the future. Although we all participate in this, consciously or not, at an individual level, heritage is also carried out on our behalf at community and national levels by institutions such as heritage organisations, museums and archives. These sectors play a role in determining our national stories and deciding what material are preserved to tell them. The agenda underlying these selections are determined by the perspectives and values within the organisations: the authorised heritage discourse. The settled population of Scotland has long co-existed with nomadic groups, also peoples of Scotland (today officially referred to under the umbrella term Gypsy/Travellers). These groups and this coexistence, however, are often absent from the mainstream story of Scotland as presented in published histories, historic archives, and in museum displays and exhibitions. This has led to what Jodie Matthews has referred to as the absent presence of Gypsies and Traveller communities, contributing to the ways in which these groups are alienated from mainstream society. Can heritage play a role in reducing the alienation of this group? What benefits might there be in the communication of coexistence in heritage settings? And how do these communities use heritage as a tool to promote their own visibility and inclusion?

ConferenceAlienation, communication, coexistence (SGSAH 2nd Year Symposium)
Conference locationTeacher Building, Glasgow

People (1)


Mrs Rhona Ramsay

Mrs Rhona Ramsay

PhD Researcher, History and Politics - Division

Research programmes

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