Trading places: Negotiating place in world heritage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Long-distance trade left behind cultural traces around the world. These cultural footprints are now often considered "global" and "shared" cultural heritage. Historic port cities like Galle in Sri Lanka, Stone Town on Zanzibar and Mozambique Island in Mozambique, which are used as case studies in this paper, were/are crossroads on local, regional and intercontinental exchange systems. Through their strategic location, economic function and vibrant international network they reflected the changes that took place over the centuries. Their cosmopolitan past and ambition to be part of the World Heritage community has now given them the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are to be preserved for their Outstanding Universal Value to humankind. Port cities inscribed into the World Heritage Sites register owe their status, in part, to the significance of global trade networks in which they developed and flourished. Trade nodes, linked by shipping, were the interface of cultural exchange and cultural amalgamation. While the cities themselves have been recognized in heritage management practice, the vehicles that connected them - ships - across the globe have proved more difficult to address. By comparing the globalized approaches of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, this chapter examines the contrasting approaches between determining significance of World Heritage Sites underwater cultural heritage. It asks what these values mean and for whom? What makes different categories of historical remains heritage? Who makes the decision on what is worthy to be considered as possessing heritage values? What happens if "values" are not considered universal but economic? These are fundamental questions that can guide us in our understanding of the principles of heritage identification and management within diverse geographical and cultural settings. This paper reflects on the processes and structures applied to the nomination and management of the case study World Heritage Sites on the historic and Arabian trade routes in the western Indian Ocean and reports on current work on developing a new approach that will provide a broader platform for sustained community involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Management on the Historic and Arabian Trade Routes
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9783030558376
ISBN (Print)9783030558369
StatePublished - Dec 15 2020


  • Heritage management
  • Indian Ocean
  • Maritime
  • Maritime heritage
  • Underwater heritage
  • World Heritage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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