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Benefits of Asia-Pacific Heritage Conservation with a "Cultural Landscape" Approach

Lalitpur, a World Heritage Site (also known as a pattern), is located in the cultural landscape of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Credit: Kapila Silva

Lawrence – That’s the current generation. Kapila Silva believes that for long enough to declare a “cultural landscape” approach, the broad historical conservation efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, well known as UNESCO, have been successful.

This is the gist of a broad new book entitled “The Lautledge Handbook of Cultural Landscape Heritage in the Asia-Pacific” co-edited by a professor of architecture at the University of Kansas.

Written by Silva and his Australian heritage expert co-editors / writers Ken Taylor and David S. Jones, this book introduction establishes the “cultural landscape” movement and the concept of World Heritage. It dates back to the 1972 UNESCO Convention.

In 1992, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee introduced the construction of “cultural landscapes” as a World Heritage category.

Silva said the latter approach recognizes “environments that may not have a monumental type of architecture.” They are a more general and large-scale historical environment where nature and culture come together to establish a place for a particular society. They are an important heritage for people and are a multifaceted representation of their culture. The introduction of the concept of cultural landscapes has brought about a paradigm shift in heritage conservation around the world, helping to move away from the euro-centric view of cultural heritage and overcome the division of heritage into different types, the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the historical environments of are unique expressions of their culture and are therefore worth preserving. “

The editors set the stage for 30 chapters by 38 different authors / co-authors, including Silva, and how the guidelines set out in UNESCO’s basic documents have evolved across the Asia-Pacific region over the last three decades. To explore.

For example, there is a case study.

  • Panchkroshi Pilgrimage Route connecting more than 100 temples along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India
  • The ecologically rooted struggle of the Mohana people, who are boat residents on Lake Mancha, Pakistan, and
  • The role of the community in the 9th to 13th conservationth-The ruins of a century temple in and around Bagan, the ancient capital of Myanmar.

Nilou Vakir, an associate professor of architecture who is a colleague of Silva’s KU, contributed a chapter on Persian Qanat, a more than 2,000-year-old underground waterway system in what is now Iran.

Each of these is an example of this particular approach to cultural landscapes and heritage, where conservationists frankly go beyond the focus of Eurocentrism on the preservation of monuments (such as castles) and instead important structures. Tried to consider how they are integrated into the land, best preserved by the connections with the people who live there.

In his chapter, Silva writes about A cultural landscape approach is clear between tangible cultural heritage (crafts, buildings, settlements) and intangible cultural expressions (cultural customs, belief systems, arts, crafts) in historic cities in the Asian context. How can it help establish ties? He described the concept of “city as a mandala” in the city of Bhaktapur in Nepal, where the belief system organized the physical settlements and the spatial and social order in which cultural practices were embedded or hidden. Let’s talk about it as an example of establishing it periodically.

So he writes: “Aniconic shrines (stone markers and flag stones), small shrines, dedication stupas, and countless gods, roadside rest areas, stages, street markets, etc. In these environments, the everyday life of the neighborhood unfolds. increase.”

He explained: “The idea of ​​a mandala is that placing it on a landscape is a kind of belief system, where people place specific markers, boundaries, boundaries, etc. to organize a settlement. What you can see and what you can’t see. There are, but the boundaries and the idea of ​​markers are in people’s minds and can be understood from both everyday and extraordinary activities on the spot. The cultural landscape approach is this “space-” in the environment. It helps to identify the “meaning-activity-time” interaction and find ways to protect these cultural expressions in a more holistic way. “

This does not mean that the cultural landscape approach is flawless and flawless. One of the contributors to the new handbook even wrote that it was time to revisit some of the approaches that preceded the 1972 convention. But in the end, Mr Silva said it was successful.

“I don’t know if the community always understands the protection of heritage that way,” he said. “But at least experts in charge of managing cultural and natural heritage are understanding that buildings cannot be considered as isolated and preserved. This is one of the larger systems of cultural expression. It’s a department. Therefore, when we are working on heritage conservation, we need to have a broad understanding of what a cultural landscape approach offers. “

image: World heritage Lalitpur (also known as pattern) in the cultural landscape of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Credit: Kapila Silva