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Sustainable communities and heritage politics beyond nature-culture divide

Heritage development as a strategy against depopulation in Japan


The aim is to analyse the use of heritage development as a possible strategy against depopulation, by comparing how different types of heritage relate to the localcommunities. Governments often see heritage development as a means for the depopulating communities to acquire a more stable economic footing. While there is sufficient proof that especially world heritage nomination has brought an economic boost to many locations, there is also evidence that this is not necessarily a guaranteed long-term strategy. However, there is no clear understanding which heritage types function best in case of depopulation and how does depopulation influence the maintenance of heritage in the long run. The project carries out qualitative analyses of 7 heritage nominations from four different categories (cultural landscape, natural, industrialand archaeological heritage) in Japan and asks which of the four types benefits the related communities best (economically, socially,culturally), how they are impacted by depopulation and changing community structures and how do local governments envision heritage maintenance with reduced population. It is expected that the results of the study serve as reference to heritage developers in depopulating communities worldwide. The study will be carried out from the perspective of environmental humanities, using various methods and sources from macroeconomic data to stakeholder interviews,participant observation, focus groups, media and site analyses.

Funding Agency: Formas

Duration: 2018-2020