Publications

Indigenous perspectives in a global discourse on the conservation of sacred heritage

Verschuuren, Bas

Summary

Within the global discourse on cultural heritage and its conservation, Indigenous voices are increasingly claiming a space. They do this by (re)presenting and defending Indigenous perspectives on the role of Indigenous heritage in local, national and international heritage conservation.
Many will see Indigenous perspectives on the conservation of sacred heritage as political; affirmations of progressively acquired Indigenous peoples’ rights that may previously have been excluded or marginalised while shaping heritage policies and practices. However, in their very essence, Ingenious perspectives on sacred heritage also represent a diversity of worldviews based on unique ontologies and epistemologies that can also be seen to be part of Indigenous sciences. Indigenous voices, thus, do not merely represent political interests, they are also affirmations of Indigeneity, inclusive of Indigenous identities, worldviews and ways of knowing, they shape Indigenous sacred heritage.
While international policies increasingly recognise culture as dynamic and offer protection for its various expressions, Indigenous perspectives on sacred sites also challenge vested heritage policies and practices. They question, contest and in some cases condemn established policies and politics, but in striving for inclusion and social equity, Indigenous peoples’ perspectives also create a more pluriverse heritage discourse from which common grounds may be created.
The chapters in this book provide examples of Indigenous voices from all over the world. Together they represent Indigenous perspectives and provide food for thought about actual and potential developments and changes in the politics, policies and practices related to sacred heritage.