Main content area

Are World Heritage concepts of integrity and authenticity lacking in dynamism? A critical approach to Mediterranean autotopic landscapes

García-Esparza, Juan A.
Landscape research 2018 v.43 no.6 pp. 817-830
cultural landscape, habitats, rural areas, Mediterranean region
This paper examines how contemporary on-going and lively debate on Critical Heritage Studies merges with previous discourses on World Heritage Cultural Landscapes and rural societies. The scholarly approach to authenticity and integrity, and the critical point of static and dynamic approaches to these terms allow the author to challenge previous World Heritage (WH) discourses with a view to obtaining innovative insight into abandoned vernacular landscapes. Two main arguments are thus developed in this study. The first of these is an overview of the dynamics of abandoned cultural landscapes on an international scale. The second is an inside view aiming to provide an accurate interpretation of how these landscapes should be scrutinised and understood. To do this, autotopias and heterotopias broach the fundamental issue of how the Outstanding Universal Value of attributes in abandoned cultural landscapes needs to be understood, enhanced, experienced, and managed in an innovative WH approach. In conclusion, complex proposals for these heritage landscapes should rely on understanding the dynamics of the material and the social construct of the habitats they contain in order to assess them effectively from the standpoint of a World Heritage Cultural Process Assemblage rather than that of Outstanding Material Stratification.