Title: The world’s, Asia’s, Indonesia’s, or ours? Heritage interpretation and appropriation in times of change
Authors: Salazar, Noel B. # ×
Issue Date: Jan-2009
Host Document: Heritage in Asia: Converging forces and conflicting values vol:CD-ROM pages:1-16
Conference: Heritage in Asia: Converging forces and conflicting values location:Singapore date:8-10 January 2009
Abstract: The central region of the Indonesian island of Java is home to three world heritage sites,
while four others are on UNESCO’s tentative list. Its internationally protected temples
and palaces draw large crowds of domestic and foreign visitors, and offer a lucrative
source of income for tourism service providers. In 2006, when I was doing fieldwork on
local tour guiding around these monuments, a severe earthquake and several volcanic
eruptions of Mt. Merapi struck the area. Many lives and homes were lost and some historical
buildings badly damaged. In addition, the number of tourists drastically dropped.
The ensuing crisis intensified existing conflicts over heritage appropriation and interpretation
on local, national, regional and global levels. Why, for instance, did the main complex
of Prambanan temple remain closed until international UNESCO experts showed up
to assess the damage? Moreover, how to defend the pumping of overseas money into
the restoration of ‘dead’ pre-Islamic heritage when thousands of families had lost their
houses? The local tour guides were struggling with these issues too. I use this particular
Indonesian case study to explore ethnographically how extra-local processes influence
the local meaning of heritage – both in times of stability and of turmoil – but also how
these ‘foreign’ elements become incorporated and strategically (mis)used in the heritage
narratives told and sold. An in-depth analysis of the empirical findings leads to a broader
reflection on the dynamic interplay between the externally imaged (represented) and
locally imagined value and use of ‘world’ heritage in Asia and beyond.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IC
Appears in Collections:Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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