The tyranny of materiality: The concept of ‘archaeological park’ at the Great Zimbabwe World Heritage Site.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Monumentality is the cornerstone of modern tourism. It specifically depends on the physical heritage but the conception of cultural landscapes is usually very abstract. It includes narratives of place and soundscapes that can map the place cosmologically. The focus on monumentality can thus alienate communities from their heritage and result in conflicts between the heritage managers and people who have cultural claims on the site. Using Great Zimbabwe, this paper shows that monumentality is not the cornerstone of memory not is it the only way to understand a cultural landscape. Great Zimbabwe’s designation as a World Heritage ‘Site’ relegates community concerns and promotes national and tourist needs. Focusing on the visual however does not assist the heritage manager to preserve the landscape that is also sacred. Sacredness is preserved through the respect of the community’s interpretations of the landscape as well as the soundscapes that they associate with the place. Managing such sacred landscapes as ‘archaeological parks’ eliminates the sentient nature of the place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFeasible Management of Archaeological Heritage Sites Open to Tourism
EditorsDouglas Comer, Anne Marie Willems
ISBN (Print)978-3030065096
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 7 Feb 2017
EventArchaeological Parks as World Heritage: A Management Strategy for the Future - Rotana Resort, Salalah, Oman
Duration: 2 May 20165 May 2016


ConferenceArchaeological Parks as World Heritage
Internet address


  • Great Zimbabwe
  • monumentality
  • narratives
  • landscapes
  • cultural landscape
  • sacred
  • community

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