Tag Archives: carnegie

The Authorized Heritage Discourse of Labor, and why it matters

To wrap up, I’d like to consider the cases I’ve presented as they work within the Authorized Heritage Discourse. While united by the gravity of the events, the centrality of steel, coal, and trains to the modern United States, and my dissertation research- Homestead, Pullman, and Ludlow present three starkly contrasting ways of memorializing labor, and three stunning examples of the Authorized Heritage Discourse at work. At Homestead, the Authorized Heritage Discourse of the Waterfront Shopping Center is one of industry and nation building. When the history of the site must be confronted, (usually out of physical necessity) it is done so in a way that emphasizes the might of steel, and by extension, the United States because of it. This is a sanitized account of the history- where the Battle of Homestead, and workers at Homestead are relegated to the periphery- both figuratively in the narrative, and literally in the organization of the mall. At Pullman, the original Authorized Heritage Discourse of a model town is maintained, as the model homes that occupy it were built to last.  The history told of Pullman remains one of quaint historic homes, and what would have been state of the art amenities. [Read More]

Heritage of Labor Conflict in the United States

Hey there! I’m Maura Bainbridge, PhD Candidate at Binghamton and next up on the MAPA blog.  This month I will be talking about my research, that is – labor heritage in the United States. Many former MAPA blog posts have talked about heritage issues (Hey Ashley! Hi Angela!) but I aim to do so in the context of labor, particularly labor conflicts. Situating Heritage  I’m choosing to engage with heritage, rather than history, because heritage leaves room for personal identity- as people living today pick and choose bits of the past to identify with. (Though constructions of history are a fertile issue for another blog series.) Capitalism, and thus labor relations, are implicated in heritage production as more goods (tokens of memory to place aspects of identity into) are created, and the past is actively bulldozed over, reinforcing the need to remember before it’s too late (Connerton 1989). Laurajane Smith (2006) presents the concept of ‘authorized heritage discourse,’ (AHD) as the official narrative of the past. The AHD focuses on beautiful objects, sites and places.  These must be preserved for future generations “for their ‘education’, and to forge a sense of common identity based on the past.” This discourse commonly [Read More]