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In the short story Old Man, William Faulker employs community characteristics by brilliantly depicting the theme of return and craftily applying subtle inferences throughout the story. Specifically, Faulker explores various languages, patterns, customs, and traditions within the community context. Three prominent illustrations of community that follow along the storyline are the community of convicts, Black Mississippians, and the anonymous.
By design of the story, each community’s specifications are unfortunately simplified. However, within the simplification, the reader earns the autonomy to imagine and create notions regarding the communities personally. In order to establish community, Faulkner relies on the character’s longing to return or be associated with their communities. Returning also supports ideas surrounding returning to moments, memories, and a sense of familiarity.
For the convicts featured in this short, their community and connection involved being accustomed to life in the penitentiary. Their lifestyle was simple, predictable, and labor expectant despite their varying offenses. Faulker showcases the interactions of the convicts by displaying the reenactment of events along the river for one specific character he calls Tall Convict.
The tall convict, presumably not well-versed in life experiences due to his early life sentencing, longs for stability and what he perceives as his usual way of life. Being sent to the flood rescue efforts was outside of his community scope. With that in mind, elements of life he and the inexperience with the river’s rage made his growing concern to rid himself of the extra baggage brought on by the rescue of the once pregnant woman he was ordered to retrieve. After her rescue, the convict displays concern for returning her to her community of people who know her.
With Black Mississippians, the shared elements of their community involved cultural customs associated with being black and living in the Mississippi Delta. Old Man, the name for the Mississippi River by black people living by the river and river towns, represents the shared thread of vernacular language. Black Mississippians were also bonded by their knowledge of the wild and unpredictable elements of the river, such as its persistent flooding and geographically unique wildlife.
Lastly, the anonymous community or nameless characters featured in the story represent a community of the countless nameless people affected by the flood and its societal and economic imprint. This community implied more than Faulker simply not providing multiple names even with anonymity. Although surface-level, the anonymous community provided the story’s context and validity.
The 1927 Mississippi River flood ravaged and rearranged many aspects of the Mississippi Delta. Within those guidelines, various communities learned and adapted to their newfound existences. Although vastly different, each community shared the commonality of determination to find its way back to a sense of normalcy.
St. Petersburg, Russia, and its history in heritage preservation have undergone several changes, challenges, and progressions since the area was first founded during the 18th century. Under the creation and development from the mind of the historical figure Peter the Great, the Russian czar that led Russia into the modern era, St. Petersburg, Russia, currently serves as the home for more than 7800 cultural heritage properties.
Comparatively, St. Petersburg is considered the second-largest city in Russia and has historically been compared to several prominent places. Primarily known for its architectural heritage, styles such as Baroque and Neoclassical Era structures such as The Hermitage and The Winter Place are impressively lined within the city.
Historically, the city has made valiant and successful efforts to preserve its cultural legacy by emphasizing providing and serving future generations with knowledge and access to their cultural heritage and the city’s cultural heritage.
After all, preservation is actively considered the process and act in which historical events, artifacts, and culture are documented, recorded, and maintained for education, local heritage, and tourism, to name a few. Within this thought, St. Petersburg implemented a strategy towards maintaining cultural heritage preservation that emphasizes the concept of continued city and economic development, reaffirming spiritual and cultural connections via its citizens and supporting sustainable solutions for future preservation needs.
For the most part, the strategies presented within cultural heritage preservation in the area and within the guidelines established by UNESCO, St. Petersburg has shown to be moderately successful in its endeavors. However, akin to many plans and cultural shifts in the region, the picturesque city has been confronted with threats towards maintaining the good preservation of many of its 19th and 20th-century architectural structures. In 2013, Moscow, a geological competitor and the country’s most densely populated city proved to be a potential threat to the historical sites found in St. Petersburg.
Some of the leading causes stem from urban development and political and influencers with resources to expand their territories. In addition, there have been some troubles with the preservation efforts due to poor infrastructure requests to UNESCO that poorly define the needs and importance of continued support and maintenance of these timeless cultural sites.
Many famous heritage sites have been destroyed in urban development and expansion because of the technicalities found in contractual agreements in heritage landmarks and buildings that do not often allow for certain phases of reconstruction and restoration projects. Moreover, an even simpler complication is the structures’ natural weathering and climate erosion beyond the repair and upkeep possible by preservationists.
Lastly, the recent potential threat of social and political unrest within the city due to oligarchical power demands and threats of war and combat via the present Russian leader could be just as disastrous to the monuments and sites. In all, St. Petersburg officials, preservation organizations, and heritage groups urgently need to remodel and assess potential measures on how the historical community can continue to maintain the story and collective history of St. Petersburg and that of the Russian nation.
Naturally, societal pressures will overpower the requests and desires of humanists. However, the concept of rethinking how preservation is maintained and carried forth in the city must happen. One solution that could be implemented is emphasizing digital preservation for some of the more fragile and physiologically susceptible sites, monuments, and archaeological structures.
Given the more permanent option that digital preservation provides, this option benefits the city’s legacy. It would make the material and resources more accessible for future generations if housed and preserved in practical places.
Another possible solution would be to decide which restoration and preservation projects are worth carrying out due to financial and location constraints.
Although not readily mentioned, dealing with the concept of time and lifespan are intangible factors that many preservationists and efforts must contend with. The presented strategy has considered many monuments’ natural progression over time and lifespan. However, this practice is more easily carried out theoretically than in actual terms.
If the idea of cultural heritage preservation is actively important to preservationists, tourists, and others interested in the cause, then for this concept to progressively continue, it would require realistically identifying key sites and places that are more relevant to savage rather than trying to preserve the mass.
Overall, many are learning through strategizing and creating efforts towards cultural heritage preservation that complex decisions are required to maintain cultural heritage.
Rather than pushing efforts to save everything, it is essential to remember that although there are losses that will be sustained in cultural preservation, the rewards and gains that are also possible can be found within the act of responsibly preserving history so that there will be lessons available for future generations to reflect. Holistically it is more important to salvage some history than to lose all of it trying to maintain everything remaining.
Arkansas State University Shanita Sanders
Peutz, Nathalie. (2018) Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen; Stanford University Press (Stanford, California) Notes, Appendix, References, Index, Pp. ix-286.
When it comes to conservation efforts in cultural heritage work, the odds of sustaining specific cultural areas and their people’s safety do not seem to be an issue that initially arises in the conversation. However, conservation methods are consistently challenged when factoring in the circumstances of a country that holds beauty and history and has been deeply impacted by wars and governmental sanctions. Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen by Nathalie Peutz raise awareness of the many exceptions when referring to conversation efforts and programs in war-torn and politically hostile environments.
Soqotra Islands, historically and geographically, is an isolated habitat with a trade history and unique endemic cultural heritage. However, in its remoteness, the Soqotra Islands’ natural designs have attracted visitors’ eyes, economists, and other countries for decades, creating positive and unbearable changes such as famine.
Based on Peutz’s research background, her presentation of the past conflicts and those of the present that haunt Yemen accurately presents multiple arguments without displaying subject matter biases. Peutz, an associate professor of Arab Crossroads Studies & Anthropology at NYU Abu Dhabi, has authored additional works surrounding the women of Soqotra and the cultural revolution of the Soqotran people. Islands of Heritage primarily focus on the historical makings of Yemen and the Soqotra Islands. History records that conservation efforts in the country and island community have been challenging and riddled with controversies.
Between existing under British governmental authority until the late 1960s, the separation of republics prior to, and the present-day civil war, Yemen has endured many changes that have directly impacted its citizens. Regarding previous texts reviewed throughout the semester, Islands of Heritage is the first book that significantly showcased both positive and negative influences of heritage conservation on social and commerce development.
Several governmental state-sanctioned programs and initiatives introduced to the locals often centered on economic and environmental changes to the island. Ecological conservation initiatives usually emphasized revitalizing the island as a natural tourism hub while also encouraging the establishment of economic independence. Overall, the central premise that Islands of Heritage presents is that cultural heritage conservation and transformation can be a positive reform but can potentially create significant outcomes for the residents of the small island. Moreover, depending on what side of the spectrum someone is on, the level of impact varies.
Throughout the narrative, Peutz does an excellent job at presenting the facts and allowing the reader to form their own opinion on what was the main culprit behind the current turmoil that influenced heritage conflicts for the indigenous Soqotran people. The many conflicts presented throughout the book’s six chapters and conclusion that served as factors affecting the island today besides wars included naval blockades, air embargoes, environmentalist and humanitarian projects, industrialization practices, and roadway construction.
However, with the challenges these progressive changes brought the island and its inhabitants, some benefits arose. Given the island’s remote location, it was a welcome relief for official roadways and an airport to be added because it established a connection for the island to the world. By the 1990s, the unification of North and South Yemen into the Republic of Yemen changed the hospitable environment of the area. Based on cultural beliefs and practices, hospitality is considered an increasingly commoditized Arab sociability, cultural identity, and politico-moral virtue that impacts the economy. (Peutz 2018, 35)
A prominent developed narrative that seemed unsettling about Soqotra Islands was the implication that the Soqotrans were people that required rescue by being shown a more industrial and commercialized way of life to survive. This narrative almost always speaks to the top-down depictions in cultural history. Nevertheless, it is notable that the people are resilient and culturally possess the necessary tools and knowledge to continue their legacy. Plainly, the political power struggle over land ownership has been the main culprit of Yemen and Soqotra’s plight. What could be a workable solution for Soqotra and conserving cultural and natural heritage with these thoughts in mind?
Peutz identifies that community development rests on the notion that the individual (or family) is considered for the greater welfare of the community or tribe. (Peutz 2018, 196)
Soqotra, a historically significant and unique community, should consider its citizens as valuable resources that have the best interests in the welfare of their community and its history. Although this concept seems rudimentary, it appears to be the basis of where a society such as Soqotra needs to begin. The ideas and appeal of culture are present with the desire to present words, poetry, and arts, celebrating and educating the masses about the islands and their people. However, the action of convincing outsiders and political powers of their cultural worth serves as the most challenging task to date.
Societal structures that have been developed and shaped by political agendas often struggle with this level of assertion. However, it is something that if everyone adequately invested in the welfare of the island partakes in, more practical initiatives could be enacted that would serve a better chance for salvaging what is left and what can become of the island’s 21st-century legacy. Peutz’s Islands of Heritage is an impressive conversational developer on how cultural conservation and preservation should adjust and adapt to the ever-changing elements of culture and history and the ever-changing political structures and laws impacting intangible and tangible heritage.
The central premise of this narrative focused on an issue that has had both a positive and negative impact on heritage tourism. In essence, chapters 5 and 16 in Dallen Timothy’s book Cultural Heritage and Tourism focused on authenticity and accurate portrayal of tourism and historic sites. However, within the quest for authenticity, the issues of staged experiences created spaces, and the most problematic of them all, overtourism, which disrupts not only areas for tourists but also creates discourse among residents and patrons.Read more: Dallen Timothy Discussion: Cultural Heritage and Tourism (Chapter 5 and 16) (2022)
Angor Wat, Cambodia, and the infamous “Tomb Raider” Hindu temple site is a place that operates between these aspects. This 12th-century heritage site rose to prominence with tourists in 2018 after being featured as the location destination in the Tomb Raider (2018) film. Despite opinions on the film’s contribution to the Lara Craft brand, the movie grossed nearly $275M with domestic and international box office revenues combined.
As mentioned, the Angkor Wat temple and Ta Prohm are 12th-century structures. Naturally, with the film’s allure, tourists from worldwide descended upon the grounds, and naturally, human traffic began to destroy the ruins. Some tactics implemented to reduce traffic included raising tour and ticket prices and strategically capping the number of visitors near the central tower at one time.
Eventually, what I found interesting with this site also pushed its focus toward creating a more authentic experience for tourists by adding a gatekeeper aspect with a local specialist that engages tourists on a more personalized and impactful tour about the cultural significance of the temple. In addition, tourists are encouraged to visit the lesser-known sites and cultural traditions around the area instead of the main attraction.
Another gatekeeper experience attached to this site can be found through extotravel.com with the touring company Luxe, which invites tourists to a full-day or half-day tour of the Angkor “Tomb Raider” Temples with archeologists. Personally, authenticity can be questioned here because these could be staged tour guides with little archeological knowledge and experience.
Since 2018, attendance has fallen due to poor tourist experiences, souvenirs, and the highly unpredicted COVID-19 global health crisis. And, of course, this once-booming tourist space that brought in $99M in 2018 economically declining is not a healthy alternative either because now the local community and businesses are suffering from unprecedented loss and are having to restructure. A recent article from 2020 captured a local’s comment stating, “I would like to have the tourists come back because the people out there, they are struggling a lot, but slowly, slowly, not like a million people come back at the same time.” (Hunt, 2020)
With spaces of authentic heritage locations that have turned into cultural tourist attractions due to fictional and often elaborate media campaigns, it will be interesting to see how the lines of authenticity versus creation will continue to impact future tourist attractions and experiences. Before, not much credit was given to tourists regarding their perception of tourist destinations and heritage sites, but as Timothy states at the end of Chapter 16, tourists are “now drawn to supplement their experiences with visits to heritage sites that are more realistic in terms of their relationship to everyday men, women, and children.” (Timothy 2021, 363)
HS 7203.003-Special Topics: Heritage Tourism
November 3, 2021
“9 Iconic Destinations Struggling with Overtourism.” Real Word, June 12, 2020.
“Angkor ‘Tomb Raider” with an Archaeologist.” EXO Travel, April 26, 2021.
Hunt, Luke. Cambodians Revel in Now Tourist-Free Angkor Wat. Washington: Federal
Information & News Dispatch, LLC, 2020.
Timothy, Dallen J. “Chapter 16: Landscapes of the Elite and the Ordinary,” Essay.
In Cultural Heritage and Tourism: An Introduction, 352–363. Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications, 2021.
April is stacked with an almost overwhelming number of exciting new releases from treasured authors. Among the highlights: Jennifer Egan delivers a long-awaited sibling novel to A Visit From the Goon Squad, and Emily St. John Mandel again turns a pandemic into fodder for fiction. Ocean Vuong’s second poetry collection will leave readers breathless, while…Here Are the 12 New Books You Should Read in April — TIME
Since her documentary premiered earlier this year, I have enjoyed immensely rediscovering Janet Jackson’s musical and cultural contributions. Along with the rediscovery, I also decided to read the book that she released in 2011 called True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself.
11 years since appearing on the New York’s Best Sellers List, and I must say that the material presented in the book ring more relevant than ever, at least for me personally. Based on the social space and mindset I can recall myself being in over a decade ago, I feel that reading her book at this point in my life was much more fruitful.Continue reading “True You: A Journey To Finding and Loving Yourself (Reflection) (3/15/2022)”
There’s no shortage of incredible YA books this year: you can look forward to thrilling, heartfelt, and funny stories about teenagers in mortal and magical realms set all over the world. Some big-name authors, including Traci Chee, Casey McQuiston, and Emily X.R. Pan, are returning with new releases, while others, like Jeff Bishop, are making…12 YA Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Year — TIME
In Florida’s Polk County, Nobel Literature Prize-winner Toni Morrison’s novels The Bluest Eye and Morrison’s Beloved were among 16 books “quarantined”—taken off shelves in public school libraries “so a thorough, thoughtful review of their content can take place,” a spokesperson explained to The Ledger—on Jan. 25 after a complaint. Less than a week earlier, a…Why Toni Morrison’s Books Are So Often the Target of Book Bans — TIME
Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements by Erica Lorraine Williams presents an eye-opening outlook on the idea of how tourism, culture, exploitation, and meeting touristic demands intersect and overlap a region’s historical reference. When heritage and cultural studies are discussed, the concepts of sexuality and the individuals that encompass that dynamic often are not presented in correlation to one another. In essence, even though both worlds often collide due to the interests of those invested in crafting a specialized cultural experience, it is often not discussed.
If often formed politically and other times, the specialization of culture can be systematically crafted to maintain order and oppressive control of a particular ethnic group. But just as other forms of life and tradition, relational and sexual habits and histories also work to tell the story of its people and its geographic region. And overall, Williams makes a strategic effort to showcase the dynamics of sex tourism from both a literal and holistic viewpoint. Also, she supports sex tourism outcomes while providing historical context and explaining how and why society developed these particular facets.
Williams, an assistant professor at Spelman College, has completed extensive research in cultural anthropology and sexual politics. Alongside Sex Tourism in Bahia, Williams has published articles that follow sexual tourism and sexuality among Brazilian women and culture. Throughout the ethnographic research presented in the book, she highlights factors such as “blackness,” “eroticism and exoticism,” and “morality,” three concepts among others that often weave around the cultural make-up of regional heritage and collective perception.
Williams presents a compelling account of how women in Brazil are viewed and perceived based on the historical implications of sexual exploration and experimentation when it comes to tourists. Given the perspective presented features of a dominant culture and dominant presumed and represented gender, the topics of discussion that Williams presented rang similar to those we experience and see within the minority representation of women in the United States and other countries.
What’s fascinating is how these perceptions are often crafted based on both the insider’s and outsider’s fantasies and misconceptions. This narrative is also complicated because the sex tourism trade is often regarded as a secretive underworld. Many cultural theorists and heritage studies professionals have identified that it is not; it is usually hidden from the widespread discussion. As the conversation develops within the book, Williams points out that Brazilian and African Diasporic women often fall under the unfair assumptions of having primitive and animalistic characterizations. It is these characterizations and other stereotypical generalizations that often influence violence and abuse.
Yet the fundamental connection between all concepts revolves around the implied usage of escapism from both individuals and society when it refers to issues that support and deconstruct problems that often go against the personal and political agendas we find prevalent in exploitative behavior in Sex Tourism of Bahia.
Nevertheless, Williams does an excellent job in which she doesn’t share her opinion but instead allows the stories and experiences of the workers and patrons featured in the book to shine forth in their most natural and straightforward form. Williams provides the reader with literary and visual representations of the strength yet vulnerability a community of people has had to display. Even in my analysis, I realize that the sexually exploitative world that is crafted around women of color, in general, causes me to notice the glaring social oddness of describing sex tourism and sexuality as having elements of strength and vulnerability when referring to these individuals.
However, Williams’ illustration, along with the reality of identifying the issues and problems presented in this world and line of existence, is a beautiful contribution to both cultural heritage and cultural healing and preservation. Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements truly establishes the mark for courageous cultural sharing and bold acknowledgment that a culture can not and will not be defined by one aspect alone despite worldviews.