Royal Gazette: World Heritage Site researchers hope to return to St George

Royal Gazette: World Heritage Site researchers hope to return to St George

Researchers from Britain are considering a return trip to the Town of St George as part of a five-year study of world heritage sites with links to British colonialism.

Professor Emma Waterton, of the University of York, and Professor Jason Dittmer, of University College London, visited Bermuda for the first time in August when they spoke to householders and surveyed tourists.

An advertisement that invited Olde Towne residents to take part in focus groups said then that the talks would cover “how British colonial heritage is navigated, mobilised and resisted within the context of Unesco World Heritage sites”.

Mr Dittmer explained last week: “It’s part of a much larger study of Unesco World Heritage sites around the world that commemorate, in one way or another, British colonialism but in places that aren’t in Britain.”

Ms Waterton said interest in the subject was “galvanised” with the reignition of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

She said: “It became exceedingly obvious that colonial heritage matters, but it matters in very different ways to different people.”

Mr Dittmer pointed out that as Unesco World Heritage sites, the study locations were deemed to be of universal importance.

He added: “At the same time, the sites are actually sites that are in specific places that have their own histories and might feel very differently about that commemoration.

“We thought of it as a kind of study that allows you to bring together the global, the national and the local in really interesting ways.”

Mr Dittmer said the study of each site comprised interviews with people involved in the governance or upkeep of the site, surveys of tourists who visited and focus groups with “local stakeholders” — those who live or run businesses there.

He added: “The idea was to take those three groups, talk to each, find out what each is hoping to get from the site and what they’re actually getting from the site.”

Other study locations that could feature over the five-year research period include the Australian Convict Sites and Tr’ondëk-Klondike in Yukon, Canada. A PhD student involved in the project is studying the Mountain Railways of India.

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October 7, 2023 News