Rocks, Wrecks and Relevance: Values and Benefits in Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage

Dublin Core


Rocks, Wrecks and Relevance: Values and Benefits in Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage


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


A small limestone outcrop is located on part of Tanzania’s coastline on the island of Kilwa Kisiwani (now a World Heritage Site). Local folklore depicts this as an Arab dhow, turned to rock following prayers offered by the local residents, fearful that the crew of the dhow were coming to harm them. This folklore was recorded during some oral history work in a maritime and underwater cultural heritage (MUCH) project at Kilwa Kisiwani. It was a reminder of what the local people valued and equally, if not more important, to their cultural identity.

This presentation will use three locations, from Chuuk and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia to Kilwa Kisiwani in Tanzania to explore their tangible and intangible maritime and underwater cultural heritage (UCH) and how they are valued.. In all these cases local communities know what are the significant MUCH sites and stories, yet other site types and/or other (non-local) values can dominate management programs. This is compounded by international agreements such as the United Nations Educational. Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001 Convention) giving prominence to more dominant cultural values and in pursuing management processes that marginalize local sites and values. This causes some indifference in developing MUCH programs in some countries which is further influenced by the fact that not all countries can afford or want to implement MUCH programs, particularly if the programs do not provide real benefits to communities and stakeholders.

Within this context, the presentation will explore what forms of empowerment programs have been used or are being considered in realising the MUCH aspects of a community’s cultural identity.


Bill Jeffery


November 2011



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