Cultural Heritage as a mass medium: The cold case of the gilt bronzes


Starting from the material turn of cultural sociology, this paper focuses on the constructivist value of Cultural Heritage. The concept of iconic power is reinforced through a new interpretation of the artworks, within a theoretical framework that sees communication as the basic unit for the social system construction. In particular, in this study Cultural Heritage is considered not merely as artistic and historical objects, or as a tourist attraction, or a simple symbolic icon, but as a mass medium. In the short term, artworks can become a means of communication for political goals, whereas in the long term they may serve as a means of communication of social identity. To demonstrate this thesis, this article deals with a significant case study: the gilt bronzes from Cartoceto di Pergola. Their vicissitudes cover two thousand years but can be summarized as production, destruction by invaders, discovery, restoration, and the current administrative dispute. Each of these events, through comparative analysis and inductive demonstration, allows us to generalize our reflections to all of Cultural Heritage, to provide a synthesis between the traditional structuralist focus on discursive codes and the material turn of the cultural sociology

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22840753n17p211

Keywords: Cultural Heritage; Cultural Sociology; mass media; communication; social identity

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