Renovating the Colosseum: Heritage Preservation in Neoliberal Times

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:30
Oral Presentation
Joseph GALBO, University of New Brunswick, Saint John, Canada
Rooted in cultural studies, this paper examines on-going debates about the renovation of the Roman Colosseum in order to better understand how heritage protection in Italy has been transformed by the demands of neo-liberal politics. The public discussions about the modernization of the Colosseum (2012-2015) offer a case study of how the “protection” and “valorisation” of heritage have been shaped, first, by the national politics of Silvio Berlusconi and subsequently, by the centre-left policies of Matteo Renzi. These debates constitute part of an on-going national public conversation about the pressures of global tourism and the consequences for national heritage of the neoliberal orientation of the market. Italy’s leading archaeologists and public intellectuals themselves remain divided. This paper examines these debates within a broad historical and political context and concludes with critical observations about the importance of the preservation of historic urban centres and monuments to a democratic society, and to our constructed sense of historical memory.