May 14, 2015
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences
Abstract This paper examines the extent to which the affirmation of local identity is achieved in the context of cultural projects deployed in rural tourism by guesthouse owners from Maramures, asking if their initiatives of collecting “heritage” and displaying it in private family museums and exhibit-rooms contribute to raising awareness about their sense of belonging. More precisely, this paper explores the role these private “cultural agents” assign to their local “heritage” in the encounter with tourists. The interrogations concerning their choice to display “peasant goods” in exhibit-rooms and private family museums allow us to assume that the guesthouse owners’ recourse to these practices entails a reflexive process on the transformations of their rural domestic universe. The progress and changes they are forced to admit under the incidence of globalization determine them to choose their own identity reference system. Assuming the changes deliberately implies the claim of their “peasant past” and its display in exhibit-rooms and private family museums. In addition, it reinforces the local action of “heritage-making” as a means of negotiating social and cultural values on a regional scale. Using a reflexive approach, this study proposes to investigate the backstage underlying local “heritage-making”, to explore “heritage knowledge” produced by non-specialized “cultural agents”, to examine various interfaces of local “heritage” interpretations by guesthouse owners, and to question the meaning tourists are compelled to search beyond the exhibits. In sum, the purpose of this study is to examine the biography of “heritagised goods” through the narratives they enclose, as a lens to reveal the cultural and social “work” that private “cultural agents” from Maramures carry out in their rural communities in addition to the aim of their economic regeneration.