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Contemporary globalization renders the Venice Charter’s implicit technocratic internationalism dated and possibly obsolete. Transnational economic markets and social movements embedded in civil society stand in contrast to the foundational assumptions of the charter, the sovereign nation-state, and the authority of expertise in service to the state. As both capital and labor have become increasingly migratory, the power of national governments to resist cultural change—whether through homogenization or hybridization—is diminished.
This paper attempts to be both historical and analytical, and while establishing a framework for understanding a need for a new normative direction, it is not prescriptive. The Venice Charter expresses a relatively uncritical trust in the rational collaborations of nation-states and their experts. In the context of this short article, I argue that financial considerations have transformed heritage site management, and specifically, that International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) increasingly direct public attention and private capital to specific heritage sites. These investments are sometimes in line with charter values; at other times, they are in response to emerging voices, either within donor groups or by communities of interest expressing distinct world views. This has the potential to undermine an approach to governmental (statist) and expert-led planning that is assumed in the Venice Charter and other twentieth-century heritage conventions and structures. This analysis benefits from, and references, scholarly analyses performed in other policy sectors.