>Conceptual Analysis

Posted: March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized


Factors such as disciplinary ideologies and research approaches perpetuate lack of application of sustainability principles within the field of cultural heritage resource management. The field of cultural heritage management is guided by the discipline of archaeology, where it developed with a strong bias on tangible elements of heritage such as ‘masterpieces’, monuments and objects (cf. UNESCO, 1972 Convention; Cleere, 1989; Kristiansen, 1989; European Commission, 2003) that were devoid of social context. The content of archaeology is distant in time, hence does not accommodate communities’ memories, while the concept of sustainable development deals with current use and conservation of resources. These characteristics may explain a dislocated relationship between the field and the sustainable development programme as discussed earlier.

However, a promising trend is developing within the discipline of archaeology, where questions of whether to divide ‘… between the thinking subject (people) and the passive object (artefacts and monuments) and replace it with a more engaged and equal relationship’ (Rowlands, 1994, p. 129) are addressed, in the process enabling recognition of communities that are associated with ‘the passive object’ of archaeology (cf. Darvill, 1995; McManamon, 2005). The process of identifying operational approaches to these initiatives is yet to be explored.

In addition, a profound lack of recognition of cultural elements and communities’ local cultural values in wilderness and wildlife management can be attributed to a biased focus on tangible and visible heritage by the discipline of archaeology where the field of cultural heritage management originates (cf. UNESCO, 1972; Lowenthal, 1985; Cleere, 1989; Kristiansen, 1989; Ndoro, 2001) at the expense of the intangible heritage (UNESCO, 2003; Keitumetse, 2006). The risks posed by alienated communities living around monuments, parks and game reserves translate to unsustainable patterns of resource consumption illustrated by activities such as material culture displacement and/or destruction, and poaching, to mention but a few.

Furthermore, the disciplinary backgrounds from which the concept of sustainable development is instituted – i.e. the natural and environmental sciences – contribute to the missing link between the concept and other resource management fields that do not fall under the conventional ‘environment’ definition. While in theory the Brundtland Commission report places significant emphasis on ‘… eliminating the tendency to deal with one industry or sector in isolation …’ (WCED, 1987, p. 63) and encourages inter-sectoral linkages, in practice the opposite is true. Of the 27 principles listed in Agenda 21, only one principle (22) (see Table1) makes explicit reference to cultural heritage in the form of identity, and it is still specific only to indigenous communities, an approach that follows an assumed association of indigenous communities with natural environment as perhaps informed by environmental determinism theories (cf. Milton, 1996). This framework continues to perpetuate a profound neglect of sustainable development programmes in the management of resources other than those perceived as ‘environmental’ in nature. Due to its focus on natural environment as a point of departure, the sustainable development programme has to some extent also alienated disciplines such as archaeology and its related field of cultural heritage resource management.


Sustainable development and cultural heritage management in Botswana: towards sustainable communities

Conceptual Analysis
Way Forward


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