A matter of balance: Opportunities and challenges in "difficult" heritage

Author(s): Heidi Bauer-Clapp

Year: 2015


Tourism centered on archaeological sites or associated material culture can benefit local communities, financially or otherwise. Yet when the site in question involves "difficult" heritage such as violence, communities often must grapple with tensions regarding how to balance memorialization or education with profitability. Such tensions can be heightened when the site involves human remains. This paper presents a case study of St Helena, a small British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. In the mid-1800s the island received nearly 30,000 captive Africans "liberated" from the middle passage of the transatlantic slave trade. Recently, a salvage excavation uncovered the skeletal remains of at least 325 of the estimated 8000 of these individuals who died and were buried on the island, yet this remains a little-known aspect of the island’s history. As a result, local efforts to promote this heritage for tourism must negotiate the tensions associated with such difficult heritage as well as what this history means to the local community. Drawing upon fieldwork in the United Kingdom and St Helena, this paper analyzes the opportunities and challenges archaeology creates for "locals" and "tourists" and the often-complex interplay between the interests of these groups.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

A matter of balance: Opportunities and challenges in "difficult" heritage. Heidi Bauer-Clapp. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396311)