Conflict resolution between host communities and heritage authorities: The application of Selfish Gene Theory in Heritage

Shams Imon, Sharif and Wong, Cora Un In (2018) Conflict resolution between host communities and heritage authorities: The application of Selfish Gene Theory in Heritage. In: ICOMOS 19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium "Heritage and Democracy", 13-14th December 2017, New Delhi, India. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract (in English)

Community participation has long been at the forefront of the sustainable development agenda. However, conflicts between communities and authorities over heritage conservation decisions have become a recurring heritage issue in recent decades. A major point of contention is the impact of proposed heritage projects on communities. Numerous case studies have shown that communities generally remain indifferent to heritage projects; but when they do react, they react at a very late stage, often taking drastic actions such as street protests or lawsuits, even when these projects are announced and public consultations are conducted in advance. Such indifference of communities towards heritage conservation negates the important tenet of community stewardship of heritage and allows the authorities to pursue a top-down heritage conservation approach. This paper uses Dawkin’s Selfish Gene theory – an influential theory originating from the field of evolution and biology that postulates that all human actions are to reduce organismal altruism in order to optimise self-preservation – as a framework to explain why, generally, communities remain indifferent towards heritage conservation but in certain situations show a strong reaction to it. This theory is used in the field of economics to explain the process of decision making and the purpose of adaptation. However, this paper is the first attempt to use this theory in a heritage field. Two high profile urban heritage cases – one in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the other in Macao, China – are studied by adopting mixed-method research, including interviews and questionnaires, to understand the factors that influence communities’ reactions to heritage projects. By comparing and contrasting the two cases from very different socio-economic and political contexts, the paper hopes to shed light on how early engagement of the public in a conservation project can be engendered and conflicts between communities and authorities avoided.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Shams Imon, Sharif
Wong, Cora Un In
Languages: English
Keywords: conflict resolution; public engagement; decision-making; community participation; sutainable development; heritage conservation; indiference; management; case studies; Bangladesh; China; social and economic aspects; social aspects; theory of conservation; historic quarters; urban areas; conservation projects; Public awareness
Subjects: D.URBANISM > 02. Urban planning
D.URBANISM > 05. Legislation
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 09. Social and economic aspects of conservation
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Dhaka, Bangladesh; Macao, China
National Committee: ICOMOS International
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 19th General Assembly, New Delhi, 2017
Depositing User: intern icomos
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 13:06
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2018 14:43
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