World heritage: exploring the tension between the universal and the national

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Abstract

The complex issues of conservation, politics, tourism management and ownership have emerged as critical issues within the World Heritage debate and specifically within heritage tourism research. Within this context, this paper focuses on issues of ownership and belonging and argues that there exists a link between the conceptual inconsistencies inherent in the World Heritage idea and the tensions between the national and the ?universal? evident at a number of World Heritage Sites. That is, heritage sites that are deemed to be of ?outstanding universal value? and are bestowed with the World Heritage accolade are consequently no longer expected to be perceived as symbols of particular national identities, but as heritage belonging to all humankind. This, of course, provokes a series of debates over the issues of ownership and belonging of such heritage, namely between the national and the ?universal? suggesting that it is possible to perceive World Heritage as synonymous with contested heritage. The paper explores these issues of ownership and focuses on the Acropolis, symbol of the World Heritage idea, as a case study utilising an exploratory semiotic analysis of the promotional material released by the Greek National Tourism Organisation over the last five years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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