Our heritage is what makes us unique. It is one way that we create diversity in the world and how we can personally make an imprint. In the reading “What is Heritage” Rodney Harrison discusses how heritage is different among culture, class, nationalism, and political arenas. Heritage is very important in identifying and protecting who we are, therefore the World Heritage Committee makes sure to take nominations seriously.
The process of naming a site as either a cultural site or cultural landscape must start with a nomination. This nomination is determined by the state. In order to be nominated the site or landscape must be “outstanding universal value”. In other words the site or landscape must be rationale into being a part of heritage of all humankind, have shared responsibility and protected for now and future generations. Once these regulations are set the next step is for the site or landscape to be evaluated by the Advisory Bodies.
The Advisory Bodies are in charge of evaluating if the site or landscape fits the selection criteria. There are 10 criteria with i-vi that fit into the cultural site and i-iv, vii-x that fit into the cultural landscape. The criteria can be summarized as : i) represent a masterpiece ii) exhibit important human values iii) bear unique testimony to cultural tradition iv) example of technological example that illustrates stages of history v) an example of traditional human settlement vi) to be tangibly associated with vii)natural phenomena and natural beauty viii) example of earth’s history ix) example of on-going evolution development of ecosystems x) contain natural habitats.
Once the Advisory Bodies nominate the site, they elect the World Heritage Committee. The World History Committee sets ground rules for operation of convention, agrees or disagrees if the site goes on the world heritage list, and then provides funds and advice to help countries preserve their heritage.
There is controversy over whether or not heritage is authentic. Authenticity has evolved over time so even the definition of authenticity defined by the World Heritage Committee isn’t necessarily authentic. Initially an authentic cultural site and landscape meant that it was to be in its original craftsmanship and substance. Now authenticity is recognized by its substance, design, and spirit. Unlike before, the World Heritage Committee is more focused on keeping the preservation of intangible heritage rather than being strict on the authenticity of the tangible heritage. For example the Philippine Rice Terraces have caused controversy on whether or not they have remained authentic. They recently have been producing other crops other than rice in order to keep revenue from declining. The issue here is that if these “authentic” rice terraces are “authentic” they should only be producing rice. However, in order to survive these workers must look towards other alternatives in receiving money, and to them their heritage is not affected.
Our heritage is what we give meaning to. While the World Heritage Committee has creating a system for cultural sites and landscapes to be authentic, issues still arise due to conflicting views of what is valuable. So what makes your heritage valuable and what makes you unique?