One of the increasingly promoted principles of UNESCO’s heritage programs is the emphasis on community participation. However, the convention’s governance system is centered on State Parties interaction and decision-making and UNESCO is mandated to work with state institution and strengthen institutional building on national level. This system limits the civil society participation which plays a fundamental role in cultural and natural heritage conservation.
This theme revisits the old and new meanings of civil society, its participation in heritage governance and its role in strengthening democratic governance of heritage which would make the process of heritage management more participatory, consultative, and transparent. The main question that this theme addresses is: How can the decision-making system and the management of the Convention be democratised to reflect fundamental and inclusive change?
Sibongile Masuku, CoordinatorSol Plaatje University
Sibongile Masuku, PhD is a lecturer for Heritage Studies at Sol Plaatje University in South Africa. She is an environmental and heritage education specialist having headed the South African Heritage Resources Agency from 2009-2012 and Director for Heritage in the National Department of Arts and Culture. Her career spans over a decade working within the people and parks contexts as a social ecologist. She contributed to the conceptualization of the African World Heritage Fund and partakes in working groups for the African Union on heritage related frameworks to support the continent on preservation initiatives.
Verónica Mateus Pereira, Co-ConvenerCIE – Centre for International Heritage Studies
Verónica holds a MA in Archaeology from NOVA University of Lisbon and a postgraduate course in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. She has been collaborating with CIE as a programme associate, also joining Dhakira – Center for Heritage Studies in recent years. Her research is focused on WHS port cities, the (de)colonisation legacy and heritage landscapes, presently using the Indian Ocean region as a case study. She combines archaeology and media to develop new platforms to engage with local communities.
Biljana Volcevska, Co-ConvenerForum Civil Peace Service
Biljana currently works as a project manager at Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD.de) in North Macedonia and as project coordinator for CIE - Center for International Heritage Activities, The Netherlands. Biljana is a PhD student at ICON – Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University and her current research investigates the potential of memory narratives and heritage production in bringing social and political change in society on one side and the social and civil movements that emerge as a reaction to oppressive cultural politics, on the other. Biljana holds a MA in World Heritage Studies and prior to beginning the PhD program Biljana worked as a Program Coordinator of the Dutch program in Afghanistan for the rehabilitation of the Afghan National Museum.
Jonathan Sharfman, Co-ConvenerNYU Dhakira Center
Jonathan is a maritime archaeologist from South Africa. His work has focused on maritime and underwater cultural heritage in sub-Saharan Africa. He has worked in the government and NGO sector and, after being awarded his PhD by Leiden University in 2017, took up a post-doctoral associate position at New York University Abu Dhabi. In this role, Jonathan worked with the Dhakira Center for Heritage Studies conducting research on the maritime cultural landscape of the Gulf and developing the Center’s Heritage Studies program. Jonathan is currently working with the African Centre for Heritage Activities and continues to work with Dhakira in developing a research agenda and academic strategy for Africa. He is the maritime and underwater cultural heritage coordinator for the Centre for International Heritage Activities.
E. Nurcan Yalman, Co-ConvenerNişantaşı University Istanbul
Dr Nurcan Yalman studied prehistoric archaeology at Istanbul University, and received her PhD on an ethnoarchaeological research. Besides participating in numerous excavations and survey projects in Turkey and Abu Dhabi, her longest project was Çatalhöyük Research Project (1994-2011). Her research interests are the history of archaeological thought, contextual ethnoarchaeology, pottery analysis and methods and theories of cultural heritage including public outreach, vocational training and community archaeology. Currently, she is a research fellow in the “Centre for International Heritage Activities (CIE)” in Leiden and member of the board of trustees in the NGO The Cultural Awareness Foundation in Istanbul, where she developed training programs on cultural heritage. She participated to the NYUAD fieldschools in Sri Lanka Galle Fort and Zanzibar Stonetown. She served as an executive board member of European Association of Archaeology and Vice President (2013-2016). Currently she works at Istanbul-Nişantaşı University, Dept of History.
Yihao ‘Rayna’ Li, Team MemberNew York University Abu Dhabi
Rayna is currently an undergraduate student of art history at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). She seeks to bridge her academic interest in material culture with her love for art practice, especially printmaking and ceramics. Rayna has worked on research projects that investigate shared heritage through art objects including blue-and-white porcelain and musical automaton clocks. Over the past few years at NYUAD, Rayna has helped present a number of student-led exhibitions around campus with her research, organisation and visual design skills. Her current research centres around the liminal status of transcultural art objects found outside their native contexts.
Chryshane Mendis, Team MemberIndependent researcher
Chryshane is a Sri Lankan graduate having just completed his MA Archaeology in Landscape and Heritage from the University of Amsterdam (2020). He is an independent investigative researcher mainly focused on the archaeology of fortifications. He has conducted a comprehensive survey on the archaeological remains of the Fort of Colombo and is also the author of an upcoming book documenting the history of Colombo’s fortifications which will be published through The National Trust Sri Lanka. His academic interests are on Sinhalese warfare, military history & architecture, military landscape heritage and plans to pursue doctoral studies in Conflict Archaeology. He is a member of ICOMOS Sri Lanka and a member of its National Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage.
Harry Thomas Creber, Team MemberNew York University Abu Dhabi
Harry is a second year student currently pursuing a History degree with a Heritage Studies minor at NYUAD. Growing up in Thailand with an English father and Thai mother, he is interested in exploring the legacy of trans-continental exchange in the Indian Ocean.
Sinan Cana, Team MemberNişantaşı University Istanbul
Sinan Cana studied Tourism Guidance in İzmir Yaşar University and is currently on his master's on Tourism Management in the same university. He has studied archeology and tourism and is currently working on cultural heritage and gastronomy. He has been a research assistant in Nişantaşı University for almost two years.