“World Heritage and WikiLeaks”, Lynn Meskell

Compartimos este artículo de Lynn Meskell, publicado recientemente en Current Anthropology (Volume 57, Number 1, February 2016).


Globalization and world-making projects, like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage program, have changed the stakes for particular heritage sites. Through processes of greater interdependence and connectivity, specific sites are transformed into transactional commodities with exchange values that transcend their historical or material characteristics and thus can be wrested from those contexts to serve other international interests. To illustrate, I employ evidence from the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks to offer an unprecedented vantage onto one contested archaeological site, Preah Vihear temple in Cambodia. Thrust into the international spotlight with UNESCO World Heritage inscription in 2008, followed by the International Court of Justice rulings, we can trace the site’s connectivity across national political intrigues, international border wars, bilateral negotiations surrounding gas and steel contracts, and military alignments. The very fact that so much politicking occurred around one site, and one that was largely invisible in international heritage circles until its controversial UNESCO listing and the resultant border war, is instructive. In essence, what the leaked cables reveal are the linkages between seemingly unrelated spheres and events, thus underscoring the intricate hyperconnectivity of heritage.

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World Heritage and WikiLeaks