chapter  8
17 Pages

World Heritage, tourism development, and identity politics at the Tsodilo Hills


When the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972, it also helped to launch the study of a number of theoretical and practical issues related to World Heritage. They include, among others, the very definition of ‘heritage’ (e.g., Smith 2006), site conservation methods (e.g., Leask and Fyall 2006), and the supposed ‘outstanding universal value’ that World Heritage Sites possess (e.g., Titchen 1996; Cleere 2001). Examination of these issues subsequently led to policy revisions and prompted further scholarly investigations into World Heritage as an emerging global phenomenon. As recent publications (e.g., Di Giovine 2008; Harrison and Hitchcock 2005) and the other chapters in this volume demonstrate, tourism is an important and timely topic in both the scholarship and the practical management of World Heritage Sites. However, studies of World Heritage and tourism generally focus on conservation and management issues (e.g., Pedersen 2002). Social effects, such as the ethnic and gender identity politics of nearby communities, are sometimes overlooked. Studies that do consider identity politics reveal that World Heritage status does have a significant influence on local communities, usually through the culturally commodifying tendencies of tourism that accompany the status (e.g., Tucker 2003; Owens 2002).