Preservation’s White Tendencies

As described by Kaufman in “Place, Race, and Story” the field of preservation tends toward the white upper class ideas of history and heritage.  However, the US as a whole is far more diverse than our profession reflects.  Kaufman suggests that we as a field should work to ‘close the diversity gap’ by focusing preservation efforts and outreach on those underrepresented peoples and histories that our predecessors have failed to include in the conversation.  PennDesign’s own, newly appointed Dean Fritz Steiner is even quoted in responding to the question “What are the primary challenges facing design educators today?” by stating, among st other things, that “The profession[s] need[s] to look more like the nation as a whole.” (see the full article here:  http://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/11575-newsmaker-frederick-steiner)

The fact that multiple fields recognize this great dissonance is important, in my mind, because it would seem that it can lead to a step in the right direction, so to speak.  The first challenge is admitting there is a problem, after all.  So then how might the preservation field in particular, address this dissonance?  How can we get A. a more diverse array of peoples involved in the profession, and B. ensure that the histories we preserve are not biased towards any particular ethnic group?  Is this something that can or should be regulated or is it more of a private sector’s responsibility to act accordingly?

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