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Vefrit fjármagnað af lesendum

Ef þér líkar við skrif okkar og efnistök og vilt sjá vefritið lifa og dafna þá er um að gera að gerast áskrifandi. Þinn stuðningur skiptir máli!

The soul of people

Ellen Wild, heritage, nordic, Scandinavia, history, saga, Iceland, Norway, úr vör, vefrit, Aron Ingi Guðmundsson
„In the end, heritage belongs to no one and everyone. It is a shared treasure, a bridge connecting us to our ancestors and to each other. “ Photo by Aron Ingi Guðmundsson

For the past 5 years I have been working as a tourist guide during the summer half year, even though I have a master’s in marine science and nature conservation. As a guide, you are on the frontline, educating and raising awareness in how we can care better for our mother earth. But I don't only talk about nature, I also delve into the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful land. And because of the way I look (and having mastered the ‘Nordic English’ accent), tourists always assume that I’m local. But when also educating about heritage, it has led me to wonder: Is it morally right to let them believe so?

Heritage, in its truest form, is the soul of people, the echo of their stories. It is a living testament to the resilience and creativity of our ancestors. But who owns heritage, and for whom is it meant? Is it the exclusive domain of those whose bloodlines trace back to the original keepers?

The timeline of heritage is a tapestry, woven with the threads of past, present, and future. Each generation adding its own perspectives and experiences. In this age of globalization, the cross-pollination of cultures is inevitable. 

Yet, I ask you this: are only Icelandic people allowed to claim Icelandic heritage? What about those who have moved here, who have chosen to make this land their home?  And who determines the timeline of heritage? Do we put an end date on it? To me, heritage is not a stagnant relic. Those who embrace a new homeland become part of the ongoing story.

When everyone is allowed to learn and take care of a heritage, its chances of survival increase. A broader community making it more resilient. When the responsibility of preserving heritage would be limited to those of direct lineage; then I fear we are putting borders where there never were borders. 

However, stealing from and especially stealing the spotlight from indigenous peoples for one's own ego is never acceptable. True appreciation involves giving credit where it is due, acknowledging the source of traditions, and supporting the voices of those narratives. 

And what of the people who 'made' this heritage so long ago? What would they think of our modern conversations about cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation? Perhaps they would just be in awe at the interconnectedness of our world, at how their customs and beliefs have travelled far beyond their wildest imaginings. 

The way people lived was never solely about the individuals themselves or their physical and mental characteristics. It was always about the conditions and nature they had to contend with and their place in the world. Heritage is not created by certain genetics but by a deep connectedness to the environment. The landscapes, the climate, the very soil and sea shaped the culture and traditions we now consider heritage.

In the end, heritage belongs to no one and everyone. It is a shared treasure, a bridge connecting us to our ancestors and to each other. Let us remember that heritage is not just a relic of the past but a living, breathing part of who we are. It is the legacy we inherit and the legacy we will leave behind.


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