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Contests over heritage in Asia are intensifying and reflect the growing prominence of political and social disputes over historical narratives shaping heritage sites and practices, and the meanings attached to them. These contests emphasize that heritage is a means of narrating the past that demarcates, constitutes, produces, and polices political and social borders in the present. In its spaces, varied intersections of actors, networks, and scales of governance interact, negotiate and compete, resulting in heritage sites that are cut through by borders of memory.

This volume, edited by Edward Boyle and Steven Ivings, and with contributions from scholars across the humanities, history, social sciences, and Asian studies, interrogates how particular actors and narratives make heritage and how borders of memory shape the sites they produce.
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Abstract

This chapter will examine the inscription of the Sacred Island of Okinoshima as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 in order to demonstrate the importance of borders of memory for understanding the contested politics of heritage. Although relatively uncontroversial, the Okinoshima inscription process still gave rise to instances of contestation.

The chapter uses one particular instance, an objection by South Korea’s UNESCO representative, to analyse contests over the spatial and temporal boundaries of the Okinoahima heritage site, contests which reflect disputes between different scales of heritage governance. A comparison with two other recent heritage nominations reveals how these contests reflect the variety of actors involved in the nomination process. Japan’s ultimate insistence on the integrity of the site demonstrates how efforts to fix the meanings associated with particular sites results in the institutionalization of various borders of memory at and through them.

Studying the production of heritage necessitates attention to borders of memory operating at heritage sites and the ways in which they channel the meanings granted these sites in the present. Examining the UNESCO recognition process is a particularly effective means of highlighting these borders as the discrepancies visible in the narratives about sites produced for distinct audiences—local, national, and international—bring the borders of memory that enable heritage site’s to operate at various, distinct, scales into focus. The chapter emphasizes the political significance of borders of memory for understanding contestation over heritage today.

In: Heritage, Contested Sites, and Borders of Memory in the Asia Pacific
In: Heritage, Contested Sites, and Borders of Memory in the Asia Pacific
In: Heritage, Contested Sites, and Borders of Memory in the Asia Pacific

Abstract

This introduction describes the heritage boom that has gripped Asia and the Pacific in recent decades, a result of socio-political change, globalization, and cycles of economic expansion and decline. In this region, too, the rise to prominence of heritage has brought to the fore local, national, and global contestations over the historical narratives and memories which inhere to heritage sites and practices. The intersection of varied actors, networks, and scales of governance at individual sites gives rise to a heritage cut through by borders of memory, which emerge and are redefined over the course of contestation which arises at specific heritage sites, and the larger narratives through which their meaning is made. Drawing on insights from the interdisciplinary border studies field, this introduction asserts the importance of reflecting on heritage as a process within which borders are demarcated, constituted, produced, and policed between different social actors and memory communities. The editors then outline and contextualize the contributions of the individual chapters that make up this volume, which collectively look to interrogate how the significance of heritage sites and practices comes to be contested along their borders of memory.

Open Access
In: Heritage, Contested Sites, and Borders of Memory in the Asia Pacific
In: Heritage, Contested Sites, and Borders of Memory in the Asia Pacific