Authenticity and the localness of heritage: emerging perceptions at World Heritage sites in Africa


  • Pascall Taruvinga

Palabras clave:

authenticity, localness, conservation, World Heritage, indigenous knowledge


Cultural heritage in Africa is viewed as a local phenomenon embedded in the rich and diverse Indigenous Knowledge Systems of local communities. It reflects the pioneering spirit and approaches of local communities in defining the localness and character of heritage. However, colonialism almost erased this localness in Africa through advancing the monumentality approach, further reinforced by the World Heritage concept until recent times. To address this issue, the authenticity concept was adopted as a way of restoring the localness and character of cultural heritage. Through this concept, the African cultural heritage provides local perspectives and insights into the discourse on authenticity. Robben Island World Heritage site (South Africa), offers cross-cutting local perspectives and insights on authenticity. This discussion emphasises understanding the dynamics between authenticity and inscription process, obtaining and safeguarding information sources, conservation, sustainable development and heritage curriculums. The paper recommends adopting a progressive and adaptive approach to broaden the concept of authenticity as a continuing process linked to the ever-changing cultural practices at the local, which gives birth to ‘current authenticity’. This reinforces the importance of emerging local perspectives on authenticity and local communities in the future implementation of World Heritage in Africa.


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Cómo citar

Taruvinga, P. (2020). Authenticity and the localness of heritage: emerging perceptions at World Heritage sites in Africa. Conversaciones con., (8), 123–141. Recuperado a partir de