Since 2010, the United Nations have adopted no fewer than five recommendations that assert that heritage is a driver and an enabler of development. The contribution of heritage to economic development through tourism is well known. But heritage contributes to development in other ways, through cultural practices for instance. The spread of the Ebola in West Africa from 2013 to 2016 was partly due to cultural practices, including funeral traditions that involved extensive physical contact with the body of the deceased. Curbing the spread of the virus required working with community leaders to modify these cultural rituals. Despite its importance, heritage is marginalized from the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goas, the main international framework to tackle poverty, exclusion, human rights violations, and climate change over the next fifteen years.

This research aims to understand why Heritage has been marginalized from the Sustainable Development Goals. To address this aim, this project assesses, through archival work at UNESCO and the World Bank, international narratives on heritage for development, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. It then analyses the successes and failures of all projects on heritage for development funded through the Millennium Development Goals (that preceded the SDGs) in Africa. This is based on desk-based analyses of the official evaluations of these projects, as well as semi-structured interviews of the participants and beneficiaries of these projects in Senegal and Mozambique

This project is funded through a £249,000 Leadership Fellowship grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant number: AH/S001972/1). The Caligara Foundation (Italy) also provided 5000 Euros towards the cost of the Post-Doctoral Research Associate (Dr Francesca Giliberto). The official partners are the African World Heritage Fund and ICOMOS-UK.

Leave a Reply