Whose Values Count? Class, Place and Heritage During Waterfront Development Port Adelaide, South Australia

Author: Adam Paterson

Paterson, Adam, 2015 Whose Values Count? Class, Place and Heritage During Waterfront Development Port Adelaide, South Australia, Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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In Australia there has been little critical reflection on the role that class plays during negotiations over cultural heritage. This stands in contrast to the United Kingdom and the United States, where research aiming to develop a better understanding of how class shapes cultural heritage practice is more common. Key research themes in these countries include identifying how working-class people participate in cultural heritage activities; determining what barriers exist to their participation and what social purpose cultural heritage has within post-industrial communities; and understanding how cultural heritage is used in negotiations over the classed meanings of place during gentrification. This thesis explores the relationships between class, place and heritage in Port Adelaide, South Australia. Once a prosperous industrial and commercial port, since the 1980s Port Adelaide has undergone slow social and economic change. In 2002, the State Government announced plans for major re-development of surplus waterfront land in order to generate profit and economic stimulation for the Port through extensive and rapid development, radically transforming Port Adelaide physically and socially. Drawing on a theoretical framework that identifies value and power as central to determining the outcomes of heritage practice, with an emphasis on Foucault’s theory of governmentality, the thesis asks: What values do different stakeholders associate with heritage in Port Adelaide? Are these values easily incorporated into heritage frameworks, especially the Burra Charter? And, are the values of heritage experts privileged over those of non-experts? The data analysed in the thesis were gathered during an ethnographic study (2009–2011) and include field notes, in-depth key informant interviews, 105 structured interviews (combining open and closed questioning), newspaper articles, flyers, permits, newsletters, emails and Heritage Council minutes. Discourse analysis was applied to text-rich sources, and statistical analysis to closed questions from the structured interviews. A wide range of values were identified, most of which are incorporated into the Burra Charter or other, similar frameworks. Financial value, however, which featured repeatedly in the discourses of all stakeholders, was not articulated or quantified clearly by any group, including heritage professionals. Given the centrality of financial value to debates about heritage value in Port Adelaide, as elsewhere, it is argued that further consideration of the use of economic methods in cultural heritage management should be considered, especially where changes to place are driven by development interests. The thesis also presents a revised argument regarding the nature of social significance and the scale at which it is understood to exist, suggesting in this case that it exists within social networks articulated as ‘community’. External discourses have stigmatised Port Adelaide since its establishment in 1836, and many residents of metropolitan Adelaide identified the Port’s reputation as detracting from its status as a desirable place to visit or live. Wary of negative associations, the 2002 development was discursively distanced from the Port’s working-class identity. In contrast to the similar process of ‘heritageisation’—the process of making something ‘heritage’—the value of Port Adelaide to the development was not expressed in the middle-class appeal of a formerly working-class neighbourhood, rather, in the rationalised construction of modern high-rise buildings. Although class featured in negative discourses about Port Adelaide, there was some evidence that place familiarity had more of an effect on people’s attitudes toward the Port than their own socioeconomic background. Finally, the analysis found that heritage professionals’ values were not privileged over those of non-professionals. It is argued that, through a complex process involving the use of property law and control over material resources, the State Government marginalised heritage knowledge to achieve the outcomes desired by its commercial partners. The outcome is an alternative understanding of power relations during cultural heritage management that questions the primacy of expert knowledge within spaces where governmentality operates.

Keywords: heritage, class, gentrification, power, value, expert, knowledge
Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Heather Burke