There is a growing interest in the study of heritage. This reflects a realization of the importance of heritage as a major industry, particularly in tourism, as well as the essential support it gives to cultural and social identities. This study attempts to identify and examine the heritage industry, offering a better understanding of the nature of heritage, its various uses and important economic, social, cultural and political impacts. An extensive theoretical discussion highlights "dissonant" heritage - the conflicts and disharmonies that inevitably occur as a result of the relationship between the past and its contemporary users; the growth of dissonant heritage with the general heritage phenomenon; its roots in the fundamental process of recognizing, marketing and using heritage; its powerful association with the cultural, social and political aspects of human diversity which prompt the question "whose heritage?"; and its climax in the contention over the heritage of atrocity. The distinctive manifestation of dissonant heritage in "old world" and post-colonial environments is also illustrated by considering issues taken from Central Europe, Canada and South Africa.
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