World heritage and the contradictions of ‘universal value’

Elizabeth Carnegie, Hazel Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


This article critically appraises the notion of ‘universal value’ as a
core principle underpinning World Heritage Sites. It does so through
examination of Göreme Open-Air Museum, a cultural tourism site of
cave Byzantine churches in central Turkey. Focusing on the contestation surrounding the frescoes within the Byzantine churches, the
article discusses tensions relating to the non-iconographic nature of
Islam and to the ways that deliberate damage to the frescos is interpreted to tourists. We conclude that these tensions emphasise the
singularity of the concept of universal value, and argue that it is only
by embracing pluralism and being open to alternative narratives
and debate that World Heritage Sites, as international tourism sites,
might be able to achieve UNESCO’s unifying ideals
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Tourism Research
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2014


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