Indigenous cultural landscapes: Equitably defining the 'authenticity' of the intangible

Renata, Alayna M., Lawson, Gill, Cushing, Debra, & Menzies, Diane (2015) Indigenous cultural landscapes: Equitably defining the 'authenticity' of the intangible. In Lira, Sergio, Amoeda, Rogerio, & Pinheiro, Cristina (Eds.) Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Intangible Heritage, Green Lines Institute for Sustainable Development, Lagos, Portugal, pp. 365-371.


Over hundreds of generations, indigenous groups around the world have passed down their traditional landscape associations, a number of which are intangible and therefore unquantifiable. Yet, these associative relationships with nature have been, and continue to be, pivotal in cultural evolution. Determining the authenticity of intangible landscape associations has caused much controversy, and in recent decades, indigenous groups have begun seeking protection of their places of significance. In response, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC) developed a criterion that intended to assist in the identification and protection of cultural landscapes. The WHC has therefore become the global authority responsible for determining the authenticity of cultural landscapes, including those with intangible associations rather than material cultural evidence. However, even with the support of the United Nations, UNESCO and the WHC, it is unlikely that every tangible cultural landscape will be sufficiently recognised and protected. Therefore, this research paper explores the effectiveness of current approaches to gauging authenticity in instances where multiple landscapes are valued according to similar characteristics. Further, this work studies the inherent relationship between the indigenous Maori population of the South Island of New Zealand, in particular Kai Tahi peoples, and their significant landscape features, as a means of considering the breadth and depth of historic intangible associations. In light of these findings, this research challenges the appropriateness of the term 'authenticity' when analysing not only the subjective, but more pressingly, the intangible. It therefore questions the role of empirical data in demonstrating authenticity, while recognising that a prolific list of such intangible cultural landscapes has the potential to diminish integrity. This, this paper addresses an urgent need for increased social research in this area, namely in identifying cultural landscape protection methods that empower all local indigenous communities, not just those which are the most critically acclaimed.

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ID Code: 92711
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
ISBN: 9789898734082
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN (120000) > ARCHITECTURE (120100) > Landscape Architecture (120107)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The Editors and the Authors
Copyright Statement: All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior written permission from the Publisher.
Deposited On: 10 Feb 2016 00:30
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2016 07:39

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