WORLD HERITAGE & CONFLICT
On commission of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I have been a lecturer in World Heritage & Conflict in the 2nd semester of the 2019-2020 academic year. I designed, coordinated and taught the entire course for 50 students from 2nd & 3rd-year bachelor studies.
In the course World Heritage & Conflict, students were made familiar with the international political framework that shapes our contemporary interaction with and debates on cultural heritage, with a specific focus on UNESCO World Heritage designations. Here, the meaning of the concept of heritage has radically changed throughout the years and has grown from objects and buildings to larger concepts of sites and (cultural) landscapes. Today, there is increasing attention to immaterial forms of cultural heritage, such as artistic practices, craftsmanship and traditions.
When looking at the management of World Heritage designated buildings, objects or sites, different types of conflicts can emerge, such as conflicts associated with heritage in areas of dispute or armed crisis, but also the conflicts relating to the management of heritage sites or objects in general, such as sustainability, and economic developments. By discussing critically recent academic, political and public debates on individual World Heritage Sites, students reflected upon what is called the ‘heritage paradox’ - the constant tension between the management of future changes and the urge to protect the relics of the past.