Peter Praxmarer

(Università della Svizzera italiana Lugano,Switzerland)

This paper looks at cultural heritage (CH) both as a concept and a policy notion, and wants to explore the theoretical and practical potential CH has acquired in the ongoing debate on the sustainable development of cultural heritage. It will be argued that this potential is due, among other factors, to:

  • the increasing awareness of the necessity of enforcing the rehabilitation, safeguarding and protection of CH and its many expressions during peace, in conflict and post-conflict situations, and in disaster relief
  • the awareness of the devastating effects the abuse of CH in state policies and governmental politics has brought forth during the last decades
  • the substantial place CH is gaining in bilateral and multilateral development cooperation, as well as in post-conflict reconciliation and comprehensive peace building
  • the possibilities new information and communication technologies (ICTs) provide for the mapping, conserving and divulgating of CH knowledge, and in increasing communication about and through CH
  • the insight that culture and CH are important dimensions in human, social and economic development of all societies, in particular in the developing world
  • the more and more shared view that CH belongs to all of humanity and is not the exclusive property of distinct individuals, groups or nations
  • the active role CH can play in a culture of peace, by contributing to the global dialogue – or rather polylogue – between cultures, by looking at CP from an intercultural communication perspective.

These factors will be taken into account in a brief overview of the definitional broadening of the concept. The central part of the paper will deal with communication between cultural heritage stakeholders. To this end, a simple model will be introduced, tentatively identifying the diverse actors / stakeholders and the main flows of communication qua CH.
The paper will also reflect upon the benefits stakeholders could reap from the realization of such an enlarged view of CH development, in particular through the realization of local, regional, national and international organizational partnerships (e.g. governmental agencies – intergovernmental organizations — nongovernmental organizations — the private sector).
Key Words: cultural heritage, (intercultural) communication