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Re-Presenting Heritage in Zanzibar and Madagascar

There are nearly 900 sites inscribed on the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Council (UNESCO) World Heritage List (WHL). These heritages (defined in this book as forms and sources of knowledge) are significant as sites for tourism and nation building. However, inscription on the WHL can also have negative consequences, by encouraging the reification of culture as well as the dis-embedding of practices and sites from their substantive and dynamic contexts. UNESCO's inscription and preservation of heritage includes the qualitative valuation of one's heritage for the maintenance of cultural diversity and as a symbol of humankind's creativity. Using anthropological research methods and perspectives this study asks how does one explain the continuation of heritage management in the southwest IOR in the absence of cohesive heritage management institutions? And what role do women play in heritage management? In the study heritage is treated as a source and form of knowledge. Thus these two key questions are followed by deeper questions about: who controls knowledge in Zanzibar and Madagascar? What can be considered as acceptable or unacceptable heritage and what can we learn from heritage that is left behind? As the study aims to show, in the largely patriarchal southwest Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar and Zanzibar, women contribute enormously to the social, economic and political functioning of the society. However, they are rarely involved in institutional efforts to manage heritage. Instead they are often marginalised and stereotyped as passive beings ready to be 'consumed' via international tourism or to be 'used' in the maintenance of patriarchal regimes. The book argues that women in Zanzibar and Madagascar are active participants in their social worlds and have much to contribute to knowledge making in these societies.
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