The Project and its Purpose

I am currently a third-year graduate student in Cornell’s Ph.D. program in the History of Art, Archaeology and Visual Studies.  This blog is part of a long-term project contributing to the research I do in preparation for my dissertation, in which I intend to focus on World Heritage Sites and related policies for their curation and cultural resource management.  More specifically, I am gathering information on a series of World Heritage Sites and comparable destinations for cultural tourism in order to examine how these curated sites contribute to or complicate the revitalization and sustainable development of their host communities.

These processes involve using marketed spectacles based on art, architecture, history or natural features, along with narratives of international significance to attract visitors to previously struggling locations.  Sometimes, the reinterpretation of these locations as major destinations for culturally-minded tourists do indeed boost the local economy and provide new nodes for community pride; other times, the degree of success these sites can boast is complicated, as they may draw incredible amounts of international tourists and beneficial assistance in preservation or reconstruction work, but simultaneously raise new issues for the local infrastructure and community integrity.  Integral to the broad-spectrum success of these destinations is the dual development of community involvement in the narrative of significance for that destination and well-administered attention paid to the physical and socio-economic infrastructure of the region is a manner that emphasizes sustainability over the long term.

As understanding these issues involves comprehension of how cultural tourist sites are made into destinations, the difference between heritage tourism and other forms of cultural tourism, major debates over the legal framework for heritage, how heritage relates to identity narratives, and the requirements for sustainable development of a community surrounding a cultural tourism site, these topics all form subsets of the interests of this blog.  Additionally, examples of community involvement in historic sites, museums, heritage practices and other relevant institutions will be part of these studies, as experts in cultural policy and sustainable development both highly promote the necessity of such involvement for the long-term health of such areas.  Finally, there will be another section collecting articles and others’ blog-posts on threats to cultural sites, such as unsustainable development and looting.


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