State policy for the presentation of Greek National Heritage : the case of the Cultural World Heritage Sites
The thesis focuses on the way heritage is presented by two Greek state organisations, the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Greek National Tourism Organisation. It aims to explore the way practices are initiated for the presentation of the World Heritage Sites that Greece has nominated to the World Heritage List of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Archival analysis, interviews with people in the initiation and implementation processes and printed promotional material aimed at national level comprised the method of enquiry including primary and secondary sources and following a case study design. This mixture of sources was adopted in an attempt to identify and critically examine the association of World Heritage Sites with cultural, economic, educational, social and political values. Considering the socio-historical context within which the presentation of the World Heritage Sites is implemented, it was found that a specific image of Greece is promoted nationally and internationally. There is an attempt by the Greek state to redefine Greekness in the West with nominations of Byzantine Heritage Sites to the List that goes beyond the stereotypical view of Greece as a country of classical heritage. This is initiated at a time when the position of Greece in the West has been questioned. The findings revealed the role attributed to the international community, acting as the significant other, that provides a way for the presentation of specific World Heritage properties. Although it was found that there is not an intensified presentation of World Heritage Sites at national level by the two organisations, the way it is decided to present sites aims at giving a point of reference for people to imagine themselves culturally but also politically. Our focus, then, is based on the social organisation of Greek identity as was found from the promotion of the Greek World Heritage Sites initiated by two state bureaucratic organisations. The critical examination of the communication activities of the two organisations, indicated their role in the presentation of notions of nationality that are connected to heritage. The state takes the role of the nation, promoting through a nationalist ideology 'constituent elements of Greekness'. In fact, the two organisations actually base their decisions on the power of the tangible sites and initiate their communication activities accordingly. Conflicts towards the presentation of the World Heritage Sites exist between the Ministry of Culture and Greek National Tourism Organisation which are associated with the allocation of power that heritage entails, yet both organisations have a role to play in the presentation of Greekness. The significance attached to specific cultural heritage, associated with the past, centres around sites of classical antiquity and the Byzantine epoch, which, although different traditions, are heritages which the state of Greece presents as unitary through the presentation of World Heritage Sites and which come to define the bipolar identity of Greece at national and international level. This, though, has implications for the process of social organisation of identity in the multicultural world that we live in.