Negotiating the meaning of global heritage: ‘cultural landscapes’ in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, 1972–92

Cambridge journals – journal of global history

Aurélie Elisa Gfeller.
The Graduate Institute, Maison de la Paix, Ch. Eugène Rigot 2, CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland


This article offers new historical analysis of global heritage by tracking the evolution of heritage concepts. Specifically, it analyses the introduction of the category of ‘cultural landscapes’ in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in 1992, using it as a lens through which to view the process of international (re)negotiation of the meaning of heritage. It shows that this reform resulted from the cooperation of competing actors – including experts, non-governmental organizations, and governments – that harboured different visions of culture and nature and their interrelationship. It also demonstrates that the recognition of cultural landscapes as a heritage category marked the new assertiveness of actors from post-settler states in North America and Oceania, as opposed to Europe, which had dominated global heritage until that point.

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