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World Heritage management: boundary-making at Angkor Archaeological Park, Cambodia

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A World Heritage (WH) designation requires that international obligations to protect and conserve pre-eminent natural and cultural heritage properties be implemented at a local level. As part of this obligation to protect, each WH property needs to be demarcated in space (or bounded). While there is a large literature relating to the efficacy of protected area management from a wide variety of perspectives which include, but are not limited to, tourism, livelihood and dislocation issues, this paper argues that further studies that specifically assess the significance and/or relevance of WH property boundary-making from a local perspective are required to aid WH site management. Using the Angkor Archaeological Park WH property in Cambodia as a case study, this paper documents local perceptions about WH boundaries, and demonstrates that, in this example, there is a discrepancy between local expectations and the official designation of the spatial extent for the heritage property. Moreover, it is argued that the unique circumstances surrounding the listing of Angkor resulted in rigid boundaries that lack local resonance and that continue to create challenges for local people and the management authority. Although Angkor's circumstances are inimitable, there are wider lessons that can be drawn from this example about the efficacy of WH and protected area ‘boundary-making'.
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Keywords: Angkor Archaeological Park; Cambodia; World Heritage; boundary; local

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Geosciences, Faculty of Science, Madsen Building (F09), The University of Sydney, Sydney,NSW 2006, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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