The multivocality of heritage – moments, encounters and mobilities

Authored by: Ana Deumert

The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138905092
eBook ISBN: 9781315696010
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter brings two concepts – superdiversity and heritage – into conversation. Both ­concepts have been subject to critique, but have also inspired important empirical work and theoretical debates. The introduction briefly outlines the notion of superdiversity. This is followed by a discussion of traditional and critical approaches to heritage, reflecting, especially, on Jacques Derrida’s (1994) work on the multivocality of the past (Debates). The next section, titled Core issues, further develops these critical approaches to the study of heritage by moving from theory to methodology/epistemology. The focus is on recent ethnographic approaches that emphasise the fleeting, ephemeral and mobile nature of social life. In the remainder of the chapter, I discuss two examples from South Africa to illustrate the complexities of heritage practices in postcolonial contexts.

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