The Within the Walls project presents a reflection on the ways heritage is identified and managed, focusing particularly on:
- the built environment;
- buried archaeological remains and;
- archived historic documents.
This York centric study reflects the wider movement in heritage management, in which current policies now strive to incorporate the values of a diverse community ranging from the local to the global. Access to heritage and culture is a human right, and as The Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (Article 27, United Nations 2008).
This view is also incorporated in the Faro Convention which recognises that “that rights relating to cultural heritage are inherent in the right to participate in cultural life” (The Council of Europe 2005). Faro also states that responsibility of heritage—or the management of heritage—is held by everyone regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity. However, despite recognising the need for a more democratic heritage management, it is still common for specific national and ‘iconic’ places to receive greater recognition over and above local heritage and for access to archives to be limited. Therefore, current practice has the potential to exclude others from a right to participate in their cultural life or to “contribute towards its enrichment” (CoE 2005).
This project will critically engage with the current modes of management, and, by focusing the inquiry in the historic city of York, it seeks to develop and test models of good practice to enable local people to engage with understanding and making decisions about their heritage, whether built, buried or in books. In addition, the projects aims to promote a dialogue with York’s diverse “heritage communities” (Council of Europe 2005) to encourage them to take active participation in the management of their heritage.