09-23 SESSION 4 Heritage Sites: Diverse, Plural or Dissonant Memories

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2021, 13:00-13:40 UTC
Language: English

The “Outstanding Universal Value” of a World cultural or natural site and the UNESCO quest for common human values and rights should be better connected to present ideas and current concerns, with particular attention to people. The significance of a heritage site is enriched by the diverse memories of the site’s associated communities. 

Although a majority of WH sites highlight common achievements, some raise issues of multiple or divergent interpretations. These issues should be openly addressed. This can be at the national level and involve consideration of cultural minorities and/or Indigenous communities associated with the site. But, when it is at the international level, as in the World Heritage Convention, these issues are particularly critical and require tactful treatment.

This Associate Theme will examine ways of peacefully consider such sensitive problems, bridge divides and deepen social cohesion. It will examine how to prevent conflicting presentations of interpretations of a site’s history, not only by acknowledging that multiple memories are associated with the site but also by articulating a methodology for involving diverse stakeholders in the nomination process, the monitoring of sites and capacity building. It will explore how digital technologies make it possible for civil society, the stakeholders associated with the site and Academia can feed pluralistic interpretations, beyond the national presentation by States Parties.

The organizers are keen to engage in dialogue with a variety of stakeholders from different regions, with a focus on good practice in how to prevent or reconcile dissonant memories at both World Heritage sites and at those that are not. Different interpretations could also be presented, on the Site or on websites, allowing the visitor to have a personal opinion. The outcomes of this dialogue will inform the interpretation and presentation as an important dimension of the management of cultural or natural heritage sites.

Jean-Louis Luxen, Member of the Board of Trustees, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
Haeree Shim, Programme Chief, Preparatory office for International Centre for the Interpretation and Presentation of World Heritage Sites under the auspices of UNESCO(WHIPIC).
Soobeen Cho, Project Consultant, Preparatory office for International Centre for the Interpretation and Presentation of World Heritage Sites under the auspices of UNESCO(WHIPIC).


Ali Moussa Iye is a founder and director of AFROSPECTIVES. He has been the Head of the History and Memory for Dialogue Section in charge of the Slave Route project, the UNESCO General and Regional Histories (in particular the History of Humanity, the General History of Africa and the General History of the Caribbean) and the Silk Roads project from 2004 to 2019. He was the Coordinator of the UNESCO Follow up of the Durban World Conference against Racism (2001-2004), and of the UNESCO Culture of Peace Programme in the Horn of Africa (1997-2001). Before joining the UNESC he has been a Journalist and Editor in Chief of a Djiboutian Weekly (1986 to 1989) and the Director of Press and Audiovisual in Djibouti (1989 to 1992).

Neil Silberman is an author and heritage scholar with a special interest in the politics and impact of heritage on contemporary society.  He served for a decade as the founding president of the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Interpretation and Presentation (ICIP). In that position he served as chief editor of the 2008 ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites. From 2004 to 2007, he served as director of the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium. In 2008, he joined the faculty of the Department of Anthropology of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and became one of the founders of its Center for Heritage and Society. He also served as co-editor of its journal Heritage & Society (2008-2014) and is currently a member of the editorial boards of the International Journal of Cultural Property and the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies. He is now a managing partner of Coherit Associates, an international heritage consultancy, and is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Method and Practice (2018). From 2012-2020, his firm, Coherit Associates, has implemented a 14-nation Caribbean heritage development project for the Organization of American States (OAS).