Centre for Global Heritage and Development interviews anthropologist on translating heritage values
A bid to become a UNESCO World Heritage site can start a complex dialogue. One where many interests and ambitions meet and new understandings must be reached. Both material and immaterial heritage must be made understandable to all who join the conversation. Can anthropology help make sense of it all for people who work in different contexts?
Erik de Maaker: “Many people on all levels, from local villagers to national administrators acknowledge the outstanding natural and cultural values of the area. But the road to obtain a UNESCO World Heritage status has proven to be difficult. Even with so many people in favour, it remains difficult to implement the required levels of protection and management needed for the status. Mining the rich coal veins is a very lucrative business that some people are very reluctant to give up on.”