Revitalising place-based commercial heritage: A Cultural Political Economy approach to the renaissance of lambic beers in Belgium

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Abstract

This paper studies the intricacies related to the revitalisation of commercial products that have recently been assigned with cultural heritage values in the context of post-Fordist consumption. Underpinned by a conceptual lens that combines reflections on heritage dissonance and Cultural Political Economy (CPE), the paper describes a qualitative study of lambic beers in Belgium. After being almost wiped out by the 1990s, lambic brewing has made a spectacular recovery due to a combination of global economic drivers and local sector-wide collaboration. However, the addition of cultural heritage values to the commercial product, which fuelled the sector’s economic regeneration, brought along challenges now there is less concern about the sector’s immediate survival. Alongside governance complexities, different interpretations among stakeholders of what constitutes ‘tradition’ have complicated defining the boundaries between collective and individual interests, which runs parallel with identifying where cultural values stop and economic values begin. Heritage dissonance, in this case, centres around struggles of finding a collective semiotic response to safeguard the sector’s agency in the context of its post-Fordist embedding, including prevailing ‘craft’ cultural/ economic imaginaries. Concluding, the application of CPE to the lambic beer study reflects the framework’s value for understanding dissonant heritage values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15-Dec-2020

Keywords

  • Cultural heritage
  • heritage conservation
  • craft beer
  • rural regeneration
  • intangible heritage

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