Shared Heritage? Shared Responsibility? Reflections on the role of ‘shared’ colonial heritage within capacity building programs in the postcolonial world

Dublin Core


Shared Heritage? Shared Responsibility? Reflections on the role of ‘shared’ colonial heritage within capacity building programs in the postcolonial world


Session 6
Empowerment and relevance in maritime and underwater cultural heritage programs in developing countries


The Centre for International Heritage Activities (CIE) has been involved in developing Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Programs (MUCH) in Asia and Africa since the 1990s. Although these programs aimed for a general development of capacity and awareness for MUCH in the specific region, often the focal point of the program was international (colonial) heritage sites. Although understandable from the practical implication of funding opportunities and available expertise of the international trainers, our experiences showed that this focus was not ideal for the establishment of a sustainable policy on MUCH management in the post colonial countries.

Building on that experience CIE has developed a vision on international cooperation that places MUCH in a broader perspective by including a platform of local and international stakeholders in all stages of the program. Through discussions about the relevance of the MUCH sites for the various stakeholders awareness can be raised for each other’s perspective on this type of heritage. Since the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001 Convention) explicitly promotes international cooperation and given the reality that many MUCH sites in Asia and Africa are linked with the past of European expansion, it is important to develop a vision on the role of this colonial heritage that is seen by some as ‘shared heritage’ within the national, regional and global context.

This paper evaluates the MUCH programs of the CIE in Asia and Africa and hopes with this to open the discussion on best practices in establishing a sustainable MUCH program on a local/regional level but promotes at the same time international cooperation to be inclusive for all types of MUCH.


Dr. Robert Parthesius


November 2011



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