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Title: Meaning and use of cultural heritage in Jordan : towards a sustainable approach
Authors: Abu-Khafajah, Shatha
Issue Date: 2007
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis examines the meaning-making processes of cultural heritage in Jordan. Although the term `cultural heritage' is used in the title because of its universal acceptance to indicate the physical material of the past, it is frequently questioned in this thesis, and the term `material of the past' is used instead. The first part of the thesis sets out the conventional approaches to identification, evaluation and management of `material of the past' in Jordan within their broader contexts. It investigates the dominant theories and practices that evolved and developed in the West, and that were imposed on, and accepted by, other parts of the world, through different processes such as colonisation, Westernisation, and the unchallenged implementation of universal charters and conventions. It then questions the universality and applicability of Western approaches in post-colonial contexts such as Jordan. Empowering people using cultural heritage is an essential element for establishing a sustainable approach to `material of the past': therefore, sustainability is investigated as a social process that highlights the ordinary, and empowers the marginalised, rather than as a product of the dominant `top-down' approaches. The relationship between people and places with temporal depth, and the significance of memories and stories in meaning-making processes of cultural heritage, are investigated within the context of literature on `sense of place'. The second part of the thesis examines conventional approaches to `material of the past' in Jordan, with specific emphasis on archaeological sites. Critical engagement with the discourses that are used to shape the modem Jordanian identity allows for new insights into meanings and uses of `material of the past'. The fieldwork of this study examines Jordanian communities' perceptions of, and attitudes towards, archaeological sites, using a qualitative approach. In-depth interviews conducted in three selected places (Hesban, the Citadel and Khreibt al-Suq) provide an understanding of the mechanisms through which local communities in Jordan create meanings for archaeological sites, and in some cases, transform them into cultural heritage: something that is closely relevant to their contemporary contexts and daily lives. The research then triangulates the data obtained from the two parts of the thesis to formulate an alternative approach to `material of the past' in Jordan. This approach is community-based, context-oriented and culture-led. It therefore constitutes a sustainable alternative to the tourism-oriented, monument-based and `top-down' conventional approach.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Arts and Cultures

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