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PhD Theses on "World Heritage" matters

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 4 May 2014 03:25 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Over the years we have identified a number of Theses about World Heritage which are available on the Web eg "Preserving the heritage of humanity? Obtaining world heritage status and the impacts of listing" by Bart J.M. van der Aa (2005. University of Groningen) see

We have a section titled "Resources" on this Web site which was set up to contain details of books and dissertations etc about WHS but it predated this Forum so I have taken the opprotunity to set up this additional Forum Topic as a reference point for such matters. Such Theses will of course vary in their quality and interest but may well contain insights, analyses and comments of interest to us - and we can always indicate our personal views on them!

The stimulus to do so was another Thesis I have just come across
"Questioning the implementation of the World Heritage Convention : A value -based analysis of purposefully sampled Nomination Dossiers" by Sophia Labardi (2005. University of London). She must have got her PhD as she is currently "Dr Labadi" a lecturer in Heritage at the University of Kent (UK). See
It is VERY long (356 pages!!) and I personally didn't find the statistical aspects to be of much value. It is of course a bit "out of date" now as well. However, I did find of use and interest its description of the nature and stated/unstated reasons for changes in the Operational Guidelines/OUV definitions over the years. But that aspect of it is provided as "background" information and the document's prime purpose is the analysis of a large sample of the actual Nomination dossiers of Cultural sites to identify the "Values" which they claim for their sites. In so doing, the concept of "Value" is unpacked across time and cultures. Many of these Nomination Files from the early years are not of course available on the UNESCO web site so we have not had access to some of the detail which Dr Labadi gained access to (she had the assistance of the WH Centre). I found some of the quotes from them of interest as well as some of the conclusions drawn. On the down-side, as well as the (to me) spurious accuracy of the statistical aspects was the (to me!) excessive background agenda of continually identifying failures to adequately support feminine/disabled rights, recognise the role of the Working classes, non Europeans, indigenous groups, local populations etc etc.

If you have a few evenings to spare the thesis is here -

Author elsslots
#2 | Posted: 4 May 2014 09:13 | Edited by: elsslots 
Not that I read it all, but I scrolled down to the chapter about the use of superlatives:

The use of superlatives is certainly encouraged by the wordings of the six cultural heritage criteria. These wordings encourage an emphatic representation of the past and the nation. This also helps sustain claims of superiority in comparison with other similar sites located in other countries

For example "oldest Calvary in Poland".

In contrast with:

Seven nomination dossiers from the ERG, three from the NERG and seven from the
IHG emphatically stress that the site was essential for the development of other
countries world-wide and that without this site the history of the world would have
been different.

One of her claims seems to be that the system promotes chauvinistic nominations, sites and state parties that deem themselves superior to similar sites in other countries.

P.S.: I agree with Solivagant that it is not a very well-written or insightful thesis, it mainly relies on the presentation of statistical data, combined with issues that were in vogue around the time she wrote it

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 4 May 2014 09:25 
I came up with a similar problem when I did the "proof read" of that Collins book on WHS - because of the way it was written by "cut and paste" using people who didn't know about the sites, the descriptions in that book are often taken verbatim from the Nomination Files. As a result the excessive and often inaccurate claims of States Parties made in the Nomination files are just "cemented" into "reality"- having been written in such a book they get re-quoted and "go viral. And UNESCO and ICOMOS are often at fault also in that they don't correct such inaccurate claims - they have lots of other points to make I guess. Nomination Files are basically just a "sales brochure"!!

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