The Global Political Economy of Cultural Heritage

World Heritage on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives

In addition to the group projects on urban World Heritage sites, Christoph Brumann has collaborated with David Berliner (Université libre de Bruxelles) in convening a workshop "World Heritage on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives" at the Max Planck Institute in October 2012. In the first ever such meeting, thirteen anthropologists with long-term field experience at places inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List presented papers on the local consequences of that increasingly prominent global distinction.

Discussants Ulf Hannerz (University of Stockholm), Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin (University of Göttingen), and Michael Rowlands (University College London) greatly helped with teasing out the commonalities and parallel developments. The case studies ranged from Chichén Itzá (Mexico) to Borobudur (Indonesia), with African and Asian sites predominating, and included cities, archaeological sites, and cultural landscapes. Recurring topics were the important role of national rather than transnational actors and institutions and the consequences for resident populations that reach all the way from new economic opportunities and empowerment to silencing and eviction. The huge hiatus between the World Heritage decision-making machinery and the social reality of the sites was also addressed. An edited volume with a selection of revised contributions will appear with Berghahn:

Christoph Brumann & David Berliner (eds.) 2016. World Heritage on the Ground: Ethnographic Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn.

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