Leeds Beckett University
EnglandsHeritageInThePostTruthEraJUDGES.pdf (4.68 MB)

England’s heritage in the post-truth era: emotion, affect and the appropriation of the past in social and political discourse

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posted on 2024-01-05, 15:55 authored by Gregory JudgesGregory Judges
This thesis builds on critical heritage research into the emotions of heritage. Where existing studies show that a visit to a heritage site can be an affective experience, this thesis asks whether the affective practices exhibited at heritage sites can be linked to social and political discourse in England. With this discourse increasingly dominated by emotional truth – what has come to be termed post-truth – it argues that the heritage industry must understand the impact it has on the world beyond its gates. To analyse this impact, a large-scale data collection exercise was undertaken using the review aggregate site Tripadvisor. This generated 28,000 data points from twenty-eight heritage sites of different kinds. The thesis uses a quantitative and qualitative analysis of this data to scaffold a wide theoretical discussion on perceptions of the past in England. This exploration establishes a theory I term ‘the living past’: a conjuncture of the past and present established through personal emotional connections to the past. The thesis then develops the emotional living past to demonstrate how it has given rise to homogenous national pasts in the form of ‘the imagined past’, ‘the equitable past’, ‘the dissonant past’ and ‘the consumable past’. These emotionally held, nationally developed pasts marry with the social and political discourse we find in England’s post-truth debates. This thesis offers a new way of collecting and working with data in heritage studies. By developing theories on the living past and the aforementioned national pasts, it also contributes to critical heritage understandings of emotions within the heritage environment. Most importantly, it demonstrates the link between England’s heritage industry and post-truth social and political discourses – before suggesting ways to break this connection.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Irving, Henry

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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