Accepted Paper:

Memovoice: participative approaches to community-based conceptions of heritage in the Dolomites  


Emanuel Valentin (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano)

Paper short abstract:

In 2009, UNESCO inscribes the Dolomites on its World Natural Heritage List without mentioning the Ladin minority living in these mountain landscapes. As anthropologist of Ladin descent I am currently facing these shortcomings in a project which combines "indigenous" and "collaborative" anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

In 2009, nine geomorphological sites of the Dolomites have been inscribed on UNESCO's World Natural Heritage List (WNHL.), which had a big impact on the attractiveness of these sites not only for research but also for tourism. But this inscription does not mention at all, that the Dolomites are constituted by mountain landscapes which are predominantly inhabited by the Ladins, a Raetoroman speaking minority in Northern Italy, even if it was the high degree of isolation given by the Dolomitic mountain environment which determined the survival of these communities as linguistic enclaves in the transitional zone between the Italian and German speaking areas. On the contrary, Ladin communities and their emic perspectives have been apparently ignored in this heritagization process.

As anthropologist of Ladin descent, I am currently facing these shortcomings in a research project which combines "indigenous" and "collaborative" anthropology. By following a participative and community-based approach I want to shed light on the existing tension between an elitist top-down and a popular bottom-up definition of "heritage". The development of a community-based sustainable heritage management which should first of all be defined by the population and which is shared between civil society and public institutions is at the centre of the project. In this paper, I will present the on-going research process and give some first insights in the applied methodology constituted by "Memoryvoice", a term I have coined inspired by the "Photovoice" method, and the creation of a "Participative Digital Archive".

Panel P032
Exploring the complexity of heritage practices through cooperation