12-06 Global Heritage Futures: Landscapes of Suffering and Sites of Memory

Monday, December 6th, 2021
15:00–17:0 UTC

LANGUAGES: English and Spanish (with translation to English) 

>>> REGISTRATION (published soon)


The universalism of suffering as a critical element in heritage and identity-making has prompted debate around the inscription of places of memory and human suffering as a World Heritage Sites. The intangible nature of suffering means that such sites sit uncomfortably within the values framework adopted by the World Heritage Convention. 

Through a conversation between speakers with academic, management and legal perspectives focused on ExEsma in Argentina and Robben Island in South Africa, this seminar explores the relationship between the tangible sites, places of memory, and the intangible (universal) values at sites of suffering in the context of the Our World Heritage (OWH) initiative and the role of civil society in heritage decision making.  

As the expert-driven approaches to heritage identification and management give way to more inclusive strategies, questions around the connection of communities (and civil society writ large) to heritage sites have increasingly focused attention on the role and agency of these actors in characterizing which heritage elements should be memorialized, and why. This is particularly relevant when dealing with the memory of suffering where it is necessary to understand how people who have suffered wish to acknowledge their pain and preserve the sites and memories of the associated past. How do communities connect with places of suffering and how does that impact on the management of sites and development of narratives? How do places of suffering carry universal value or are the local experiences bound to individuals and communities? How do memory and remembering interlink with the social-economic uses of heritage?


– Alejandra Naftal, Executive Director ESMA Museum and Site of Memory – Former Clandestine Center of Detention, Torture and Extermination – Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
– Nolubabalo Tongo-Cetywayo, Author and Researcher, University of Fort Hare