Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Long- distance trade left behind cultural traces around the world. These cultural footprints are now often considered “global” and “shared” cultural heritage. Historic port cities like Galle in Sri Lanka, Stone Town on Zanzibar, Mozambique Island in Mozambique and the Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun in Bahrain, which are used as case studies in this paper, were/are crossroads on local, regional and intercontinental exchange systems. Their cosmopolitan past and ambition to be part of the World Heritage community has now given them the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are to be preserved for their Outstanding Universal Value to humankind.
By comparing the globalized approaches of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, this chapter examines the contrasting approaches between determining significance of World Heritage Sites underwater cultural heritage. It asks what these values mean and for whom? What makes different categories of historical remains heritage? Who makes the decision on what is worthy to be considered as possessing heritage values? What happens if “values” are not considered universal but economic? These are fundamental questions that can guide us in our understanding of the principles of heritage identification and management within diverse geographical and cultural settings. This paper reports on current work on developing a new approach that will provide a broader platform for sustained community involvement.