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HERITAGE IN BRAZIL
 

CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT PRESERVATION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE

The matter about cultural heritage more and more is related to cultural identity. The terms historical, artistic, architectural, archeological, touristic and (why not?) ecological, scientific and technological heritage can be resumed to just one term: Cultural Heritage. Heritage is something inherited, the past that explains the present, the basis for our future. Benedito Lima de Toledo (1), in one article says: "The search for preservation of our cultural identity is the main goal of every policy for protecting cultural property. This policy is born from a commitment with social life. The collection to be preserved, received from previous generations or being a product of our time, shall be referred as historical for its significance, for its major social representativity. When preserving its historical and cultural heritage, society aims its human growth."
In Bra zil, little by little society is being acquainted of our cultural identity. Ítalo Campofiorito (2), divides into four phases the course of our Heritage: "the struggle for its creation (1936/37), the heroic phase (1937/69) and decline (1969/79), followed by a sthetical and contextual retake of culture by government restructuration."

Many things need urgent rescues, it's interesting to quote some parts from editorial of magazine "Ciência Hoje" (Science Today), vol. 2, # 15 (3): "In Souza (Paraíba State), a very rare dinosaur's footprint fossil is taken off from the rock and vanishes. In Congonhas do Campo (Minas Gerais State), Aleijadinho's prophets sculptures are depredated by visitors and corroded by action of time. The fauna from Pantanal do Mato Grosso (river floodable land in western central Brazil) is endangered by merciless hunting. At same time, in Rio de Janeiro an eight thousand volume library is turned into toilet paper. The National Archive keeps only 9% of federal government documents, and until recently was not able to at least identify half of the papers under its custody. Access to military archives depends on its directors' discretion. Documents about the war against Paraguay are still closed to consultation at the Itamarati Historical Archive, 114 years after the end of conflict." ... "At government's side, neglect of preservation and access restriction to what is already preserved. At people's side, lack of consciousness about his own history and culture value. Two sides of the same coin: a government who is unlinked from his people and a people who is unaware of government's action. A country without sense of common heritage. A country without Nation."

Although existing problems in conceiving what (not to) preserve, conceipts and criteria are not static, they take part in a dynamic process. Campofiorito (2) makes an analysis about figures related to listed property in federal sphere: "Up to 1982, 952 properties were listed, 40% of which in a period of 44 years belongs to religious architecture; 94% of all properties have architectural nature, 4% are movable property and 2% are landscape. Related to national territory, 25% of all listed property are in the 6th region of Regional Directory, 22,5% of them in Rio de Janeiro State, 20% in Minas Gerais State, 18% in Bahia State and 8% in Pernambuco State. Therefore, to make it simple (but not much), it's easy to delineate a historical profile of a property considered as valuable: a church, for sure belonging to 18th Century, located in Rio, Minas or Bahia. And that's exactly the general idea about national protection of historical and artistic heritage.
The mere fact that average listing, within 5 year period, in the last 39 years, dropped from 129 (1948/52) to 39 (1978/82), demonstrates that the cultural property universe, in orthodox sense, got to an exhaustion, and justifies young peoples' and communitary leaders' general claim for an opening of value criteria to incorporate other procedures and more vernacular architectural classes, more commonplace urban sets, more expressive spiritual property created by distressed sectors of Brazilian society, that means, everything that was officialy discriminated, disdained and oppressed."

But is cultural heritage only what is listed? Simple listing on records does guarantee its preservation? The answer is obviously no. It's important to define the meaning of the word preservation.

TO BE CONTINUED


 
 
 
 
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