Culture vs Heritage
Culture and heritage are concepts that have become very common, and are used by people to describe the legacy of the past generations. In fact, the use of the phrase cultural heritage and the endeavor by UNESCO to declare World Heritage Sites in different parts of the world has confused many as they look for differences between culture and heritage. This article attempts to differentiate between the two concepts, to enable readers to appreciate the two tools of human civilizations.
Culture is a complex whole that makes the behavior patterns and interactions between members of societies unique and distinct. It is defined as the body of knowledge that is passed down the generations and comprises all the traditions, habits, customs, beliefs, and capabilities that are acquired by the people by virtue of being a member of the society. Culture is all things that are acquired and not ingrained or present by birth.
It is the learning of culture that helps a member of the society to survive as he knows how to behave and interact with others in the society. It is the cultural identity that makes people living in one part of the world unique and distinct from other people. Culture should not be mistaken as a means of communication as the traditions and customs help to achieve peace and order among the members of the society. It is the shared traditions and customs that develop a feeling of belongingness and brotherhood among the members of a society.
In all countries and cultures, there are gifts of nature in the form of hills, rivers, landscapes, flora and fauna, mountains, volcanoes etc that form the natural treasure of that country. This is referred to as the heritage of a country or place. However, there is another legacy that is developed and passed over generations and referred to as cultural heritage. For example, the foods, dresses, jewelry, architecture, structures, monuments, art forms etc. are called the cultural heritage of a people. This also includes the artifacts from the past that constitute a cultural legacy of a culture.
What is the difference between Culture and Heritage?
• While culture is the composite body of knowledge that members of a society acquire by virtue of living in a place, heritage refers to the legacy of the people that they inherit from earlier generations.
• Culture is all that constitutes the way of life of a people whereas heritage is what the people inherit from the past.
• Heritage includes culture and is not restricted to artifacts and monuments alone.
• Heritage is a concept that reminds us of the value of our treasure that we must protect to leave for our future generations.
• Preservation and conservation of our treasure from the past is the way to carry our heritage from the present to the future.
• Heritage is extrinsic while culture also includes intrinsic items.