Having more than 1,000 sites on the World Heritage List raises questions regarding what world heritage means. The re-evaluation of heritage sites within the USA will be conducted as a case study, where similar issues of historical designation has taken place. Within recent decades there has emerged a policy of revisiting designations that occurred prior to 1990, when the nomination process was less rigorous. These re-evaluations do not necessarily remove the property from heritage designation, but the process has been valuable from a qualitative standpoint because a better understanding of significance has been achieved. The paper aims to discuss this issue.
Within recent decades there has emerged a policy of revisiting designations that occurred prior to 1990 in the USA, when the nomination process was less rigorous. Should a similar approach or policy be made to the properties placed on the World Heritage List during the first decades, since the expectations for demonstrating outstanding universal value have since increased? The result could be that we end up with a more robust World Heritage List that provides a better definition of what the common heritage of humanity is.
The way we approach and conceptualize World Heritage needs to evolve accordingly, considering how much it has evolved since the Convention in 1972. The experiences of re-evaluating historic places in the USA since the 1990s has much to offer.
Only the perspective of the USA is given, as a case study. Contributions from practitioners in other countries experienced in heritage site re-evaluation best practices would be meaningful.
Re-evaluating World Heritage Sites is something to consider as a management prospect for places on or under consideration for the World Heritage List since it could bring a more comprehensive understanding of outstanding universal value. This type of re-evaluation may help in addressing the meaning of place(s), contextualization of multiple locations of common heritage, and the political elitism of the World Heritage List, where some countries are over represented due to sites listed through a less-experienced process from earlier decades.
Revisiting the World Heritage List in respect to policy and the meaning of world heritage may be in order. For example, should every nation be entitled to list at least one property to the list regardless of its heritage value?
Since the 1970s, coinciding with the establishment of the World Heritage List through the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the USA has dealt with dynamic and complex logistical problems regarding the recognition and interpretation of its cultural heritage.
Stiefel, B.L. (2018), "Rethinking and revaluating UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Lessons experimented within the USA", Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 47-61. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-02-2017-0006Download as .RIS
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