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Nigel Worden

Abstract

This chapter examines the ambiguities that exist in the ways in which Cape Town’s Indian Ocean heritage is publically perceived and how this is presented in museums, exhibitions and monuments. It argues that this is a reflection of Cape Town’s ambiguous political and cultural position within the ‘new South Africa’. The chapter focuses on two case studies, one on the representation of Islam, the other on that of slavery. In the case of Islam a strong invented tradition produced the racial and cultural category of ‘Malay’ in the apartheid era, a tradition that presented Islam as an exotic import from the Dutch East Indies brought by aristocratic exiles and religious leaders, but neglecting the role played by slaves and others within the town. Public commemoration of slavery in museums and monuments has only emerged since the advent of democracy in 1994, its aim being to depict its diverse geographical and cultural Indian Ocean roots more broadly. However, the association of slavery with Islam and Southeast Asia remains strong, and a broader Indian Ocean, and especially African, context is contested.

Series:

Abdul Sheriff

Abstract

Zanzibar Town developed from its Swahili roots based on its stone-building technology and its social and cultural practices. It was cosmopolitan because of its interactions across the Indian Ocean. During the nineteenth century it incorporated newer Omani and Indian influences, and British colonialism made its own contribution to constitute a unique architectural ensemble. However, the British also divided the Old Town on the peninsula from the Native Quarter developing on ‘the Other Side’ of the Creek. The Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 turned the tables on the Old Town, with the large-scale nationalization of houses and the social transformation of the urban population. Conservation of the Old Town became a burning issue from the mid-1980s. However, the process of heritagization involved a number of contradictory forces, raising questions regarding whose heritage, why it should be preserved, what criteria should be used and whether UNESCO is right in insisting on its ‘Outstanding Universal Value’.

Series:

Christoph Brumann

Abstract

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention of 1972 is often regarded as a success, and a place on the World Heritage List, with its now more than one thousand entries, has become a major global distinction, encouraging tourism, self-esteem, investments and conservation efforts. Charges of Eurocentrism in site selection have led to a greater emphasis on everyday heritage and long-distance cultural exchanges. The chapter analyses how this has affected World Heritage properties in and around the Indian Ocean and their official justifications for listing. Early inscriptions did not pay much attention to the ocean, whereas the ‘Global Strategy’ of 1994 has clearly encouraged a greater emphasis on links, migration, and cultural fusion. World Heritage properties connected with slavery and indentured labour have made their debut too. However, not all candidate sites use the ocean to the degree they could, and the potential for celebrating Indian Ocean connectivity through World Heritage is far from being exhausted.

Series:

Mareike Pampus

Abstract

The heritage politics considered in this chapter are related to the performative aspects through which identities are situationally and strategically expressed. The focus is on the Baba Nyonya of Penang and their everyday practices, with cooking and eating as the main examples. It demonstrates how cooking certain dishes, as well as eating habits, are used in the construction and performance of Baba Nyonya identity. The narratives and cooking process of the dish called Chicken Kapitan are discussed and analysed from an anthropological perspective. The ways of cooking and consuming that are self-consciously used by Baba Nyonya to differentiate themselves from other (Chinese) groups in Penang reveal how a dish can come to be intimately linked to the historical experiences of the residents of a port city and the ways in which ‘recourse to the past’ is used for identity constructions.

Series:

Ulrike Freitag

Abstract

This chapter investigates the infrastructure that developed in Jeddah to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Before oil, the annual pilgrimage or hajj was the largest source of local income for the successive states of the Ottomans, Sharifians and the early phase of the third Saudi state. At the same time, however, it was a seasonal business only, one which also posed substantial problems in terms of population control and health. Thus, a range of infrastructure evolved to cater for the needs of pilgrims. Some of this infrastructure, such as the different types of housing available to pilgrims, have older origins, while others, such as quarantine barracks and hospitals, were an immediate outcome of international concerns. Furthermore, the Hajj also accelerated the development of transport infrastructure, from improvements to the port to the introduction of busses and cars. The chapter, which is based on Ottoman, British, French and local archival sources, in addition to travelogues, memoirs, local histories, oral history and photographic sources, also touches on the question of how pilgrims, many of whom stayed for lengthy periods of time, were able to become part of the local societies.

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Katja Müller and Boris Wille

Abstract

This paper investigates the politics of cultural heritage in the Indian Ocean World by comparing the case of the Eickstedt Photo Archive’s movement between Germany and India to that of the relocations of the Kalhuvakaru mosque in the Maldives. The discussion of processes of digitization and of the movement of artefacts reintroduces the agency of objects in debates concerning heritage valorization. Instead of overemphasizing the primacy of the heritage object or the human factor in the production of heritage, the paper scrutinizes the interrelatedness of the materiality and mobility of artefacts, thereby suggesting a new way of incorporating materiality and mobility as object qualities back into heritage debates. A relational matrix demonstrates that stable and mutable materialities both enable and prevent the mobility of artefacts, which in turn either fosters or hampers heritagization.

Series:

Iain Walker

Abstract

In 1975, when the Comoro Islands achieved independence, the people of one of the islands, Mayotte, voted to remain French. This choice was based on a longstanding desire to escape the hegemony of the two larger islands, but it came to be expressed as the product of a distinct social and cultural profile, a rejection of things Comorian underpinned by specific claims both to hybridity and to a French identity. As the implications of political incorporation into the French state became clearer, however, and now that the threat of incorporation into the independent Comorian state has receded, ambivalence towards being French has grown. This chapter analyses how different expressions of identity are played out in daily practice and how the tensions implicit in recognizing a Comorian identity are negotiated. The islanders confront political and cultural choices that on the one hand challenge their social practices while on the other threatening their economic and political security.

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Himanshu Prabha Ray

Abstract

The paper discusses India’s presentation of Project Mausam for possible transnational World Heritage status at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha, Qatar, in June 2014 and compares this with the recent adoption by UNESCO of a transnational project entitled Maritime Silk Routes funded by China. The latter draws its title from the romanticism of the ‘Silk Road’ that linked China with the Mediterranean by sea as popularized by early twentieth-century writers. One of the objectives of the paper is to address a vital issue relating to the role of the disciplinary specialist in the framing of themes to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage dossiers. A related issue is the agency responsible for initiating the nomination process. These questions are important in respect of the narratives that have been universalized for global recognition and have far-reaching implications for the preservation and protection of monuments and archaeological sites.

Series:

Tansen Sen

Abstract

This chapter examines the spread of Chinese temples associated with the veneration of Ruan and Liang buddhas from Sihui County in Guangdong Province, China, through Southeast Asia to the Chinatown in Kolkata, India. Ruan Ziyu and Liang Cineng were followers of the sixth Chan patriarch Huineng (638–713) and are believed to have attained enlightenment and become buddhas during the Song dynasty (960–1279). With the migration of people from the Sihui region in the nineteenth century, the belief in the two buddhas and the temples associated with them spread to present-day Malaysia and India. These Ruan-Liang temples in foreign settings functioned as religious sites as well as community spaces and heritage markers. By tracing the spread and evolution of the Ruan-Liang belief and examining the communal function of the temples through the use of photographic images, this chapter analyses the relationship between migration and the diffusion of Chinese religious traditions, the mixing of Chinese and local ideas and histories, and the intimate maritime connections between China, Southeast Asia and India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Series:

Burkhard Schnepel

Abstract

This introduction addresses the key methodological and theoretical issues against which the contributions to this volume have been written. It basically argues that ‘her­itage’ is something which is produced, not simply given. This social construction (and selection) of ‘heritage’ out of a great reservoir of possible historical events, processes, persons and material remnants is not a straightforward matter. The heritagization of some elements of the past and not others is more often than not prone to contestations and negotiations between persons who have different, if not sometimes diametrically opposed interests and aims. What is at stake, then, is not heritage as such, but the politics of (cultural) heritage and an awareness that ‘heritage produces something new which has recourse to the past’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett). This introduction also addresses the ‘postcolonial situation’ in the Indian Ocean world, which, with its long history of the mobility of persons and things, has also meant that heritage beliefs, practices and discourses have become “travelling pasts” moving not only in time, but also in space.