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7 November 2014: WIS-studieavond Werelderfgoed in Italië / Uitreiking Scriptieprijs / Uitreiking Onderzoeksprijs

World heritage, tourism and other threats – UNESCO ideals and national realities

A debate organized by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the Werkgroep Italië Studies


Date: Friday November 7, 2014

Time: 20.00 hrs

Location: Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Keizersgracht 564, Amsterdam

Entrance free


In 2012, the Art Newspaper reported that 'Pompei is in crisis'. The collapse of a column and a wall made clear that there was a lack of maintanance, and a UNESCO committee concluded that there was 'structural damage to buildings, vandalism and a lack of qualified staff' for which reason they threatened to withdraw the site from the list of World Heritage Sites. The Italian government responded with a EU-supported renovation plan that was accepted by the UNESCO, which included renovations of critical sites and the reopening of a number of important houses.

Pompei is not alone in encountering problems in the upkeep and management of world heritage sites, and it represented yet another case in which UNESCO opted to withdraw the site from the list. This threat can be interpreted as an interference with the policy of national and regional governments, that in effect forces them to obey the UNESCO rules. With the increasing number of places designated as World Heritage Sites and the growing visitor numbers at tourist destinations, both physical maintenance and visitor management become increasingly difficult. In Venice, for example, the arrival of ever more and ever larger cruise ships has sparked public discussion on the desirability of this kind of day-tourism and who is paying the costs of protecting the lagoon and the city against natural and human inundation. Similarly, after its recent inscription of the canal ring area’s on the World Heritage List, Amsterdam has also witnessed discussions on the impact of tourists on its city centre. Thus, physical changes and human interventions often pose a combined danger which becomes all the more acute when the status of World Heritage is being obtained and maintained; international regulations can start to overrule national organizations in decisions on maintenance and management.

On the 7th of November, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Amsterdam and the Dutch Society for Italian studies organize a debate with several specialist in the field: prof.dr. Marijke Gnade (Archaeology, UvA), dr. Riemer Knoop (Museum and Heritage Studies, Reinwardt Academie, Amsterdam and involved with the Dutch UNESCO committee), mr.drs. Erik Mattie (Architectural historian, Stadsdeel Centrum, Amsterdam) and drs. Dre van Marrewijk (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, focal point for World Heritage in the Netherlands). The debate will be moderated by Dr. Tamara van Kessel, Assistant Professor in Heritage Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

After the debate, the Dutch Society for Italian studies will announce (in Dutch) the winners of the Master Thesis Award 2011-2013 and the Research Award Linguistics/Literature 2013.