Rethinking the spirit of place: conceptual convolutions and preservation pragmatics

Silva, Kapila D. (2008) Rethinking the spirit of place: conceptual convolutions and preservation pragmatics. In: 16th ICOMOS General Assembly and International Symposium: ‘Finding the spirit of place – between the tangible and the intangible’, 29 sept – 4 oct 2008, Quebec, Canada. [Conference or Workshop Item]


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Abstract (in English)

Bringing theories form anthropological, psychological, and environmental disciplines together, this paper proposes a definition of the notion of spirit of place, its constituents, and how the tangible and intangible aspects of a place and culture evoke such a spirit of place and memory of it. It then uses that conceptual framework to critique the current definitions of constructs such as tangible and intangible heritage and heritage values, showing their conceptual convolutions and limited practicality in preservation. The paper then discusses how such definition could lead the conservation policies and practices as well as social & economic sustainability of a historic place. Finally it presents a case study of a World Heritage site in Sri Lanka in order to illustrate the thesis postulated in the paper.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Silva, Kapila D.
Languages: English
Keywords: intangible heritage; spirit of place; concept; conservation; sacred places; historic town; World Heritage List
Subjects: M.WORLD HERITAGE CONVENTION > 03. World Heritage List
O.INTANGIBLE HERITAGE > 01. Generalities
A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 02. Concept and definition
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 17. Intangible cultural heritage
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 12. Historic towns and villages
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Sacred City of Kandy, Sri Lanka
UNESCO WHC Number: 450
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2008, 16th
Depositing User: Jose Garcia
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2010 10:18
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2023 12:47
References: Duncan, James .S. 1990. The City as text: The politics of landscape interpretation in the Kandyan Kingdom. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press.

Rapoport, Amos. 2005. Culture, Architecture, and Design. Chicago: Locke Science Publishing.

Silva, K. D. 2004. Mapping meaning in the city image: Towards preserving the imageability of urban cultural landscapes, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Milwaukee, USA: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Silva, K.D. 2006. Conserving Asian Urban Heritage: The need for re-conceptualizing value-based management approach; Edited by Siriwan Silpacharanan and Jeffrey Campbell. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Asian Approaches to Conservation. Bangkok, Thailand: Chulalongkorn University: pp. 16-23.

UNESCO. 2003. Convention for the Safeguard of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Paris: UNESCO.

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