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Title: Contested heritage : the people of Angkor
Author: Miura, Keiko.
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2004
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The thesis is an ethnography of heritage, as contested by various groups of people who have a stake in Angkor, Cambodia. Contestation is over the notion of heritage and its meaning, in particular, knowledge, ownership, cultural rights, practices, and control of space and practices. The main protagonists are local villagers and Buddhist monks. Other social actors include conservators, local authorities, international organisations, local NGOs, and the international community. The inscription of Angkor on the World Heritage List in December 1992 marked the emergence of new perceptions of heritage and its management. The thesis analyses the nature of contestation in the historical context and from various vantage points - conservation, tourism, and local practice. While adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, it emphasises the need for and appropriateness of anthropological perspectives in heritage studies, which have traditionally been dominated by archaeologists, architects, geographers and historians. Angkor is often referred to as a living heritage site, yet there is no coherent knowledge among policy-makers and managing authorities on what `living' entails. The religious and symbolic importance of Angkor is emphasised, while villagers' socio-economic and cultural practices have been severely restricted, leading them to become marginalized. My argument is that religious aspects of life cannot be separated from everyday practice. Ethnographic materials on local practices in Angkor are scarce. My research provides the first comprehensive case study that focuses on the `living' aspects of Angkor. The study consists of four interconnected sections. Part I examines the definition of heritage and such related concepts and notions as space, place, locality, and landscape as argued by academics and UNESCO. Part II fills out Angkor's cultural landscape, exploring the local significance of space, particular places, as well as locality and sense of place in conceptual knowledge and people's practices. Part III discusses the local inhabitants' experience of marginalization from Angkor ranging from physical expulsion to denial of practices. The final section demonstrates how local villagers negotiate and strategise their way through living in an ever-contested heritage space. In conclusion I demonstrate the `location' of the issue of local community in debates among international and national policy-makers and suggest the reconsideration of the notion of heritage. It is hoped that the study will make a contribution to discussions on heritage issues in general and how to make the `ideal' of a living heritage site, in particular, genuinely realisable for the people living with Angkor.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available