Melodies of God: Significance of the Soundscape in Conserving the Great Zimbabwe Landscape

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Sacred cultural landscapes require a holistic approach in terms of their conservation. They are intimate spaces which are susceptible to cultural erosion if the focus is on a few elements that heritage practitioners think are important. Mainstream conservation theories and processes, developed from western philosophies, however, emphasises on the preservation of material remains. But there intimate connections between people and place which if eroded can result in erasure of memory and ultimately the un-inheriting of the heritage place. Soundscapes, the relationship between people and the sounds around them, is a novel way to understand these intimate and emotional connections that people have in places. Using the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage site, I examine how local communities cultivate deep connections and sustain memory of place through their preservation of the intangible. A series of events at Great Zimbabwe have clearly shown that the soundscapes represent intimate connections between local communities and the cultural landscape and how the preservation of this soundscape can enhance the conservation of the tangible heritage in this sacred landscape. This paper examines how the soundscape of the Great Zimbabwe cultural landscape is used to preserve memory and sustain connections between the people and the landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community Archaeology and Heritage
Early online date22 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2017

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  • Great Zimbabwe
  • soundscape
  • sacred landscape
  • mbira
  • voices

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