Tuesday 6
Culture and resilience
William's Daré
› 15:45 - 16:40 (55min)
Rural Networks, Pathways to History
Richard Hewitt  1, 2@  , Veronica Hernandez Jimenez  3, *@  
1 : Researcher  -  Website
2 : University of Alcala & Observatorio para una Cultura del Territorio
3 : Observatorio para una Cultura del Territorio
* : Corresponding author

This work aims to contribute new approaches for sharing knowledge about cultural heritage emphasising the subjective nature of landscape and the key role that local communities may play in interpreting and valuing their own cultural rural landscapes. The interpretation of a given landscape depends primarily on who is percieving that landscape. Perceptions, preferences, and interests are intimately linked to different landscape elements which are the source of knowledge for those who observe them, by shaping our memory and identity. The main focus of this work are the cultural elements associated with public works in rural areas such as trails, roads, water supplies, etc.. These elements make an enormous contribution in shaping the territory and generating new landscapes. This work aims to seek new strategies to raise awareness of local populations about their immediate environment and their own rural cultural heritage landscapes. Rural society has a key role in recovering the local significance of these cultural elements and valuing and protecting both cultural (archaeological sites, cattle droveways) and natural (land, water, habitats, ecosystems) landscape elements which are inextricably interlinked. Modern participatory approaches that combine discursive and analytical approaches can be usefully applied to the management of cultural heritage, allowing local communties to take a central role in understanding, valuing and conserving landscapes. In addition, by combining these participatory approaches with state-of-the-art information and communications technologies and multimedia, interpretation of cultural landscapes can be better disseminated and democratized to allow virtual visits to sites that may be inaccessible to some sectors of the population.

The work combines experiences from research carried out in several regions of Spain. Results are presented from recent participatory workshops about the integration of cultural heritage sites with the rural landscapes that contain them. Examples of dissemination and interpretation activities among local communities using state of the art multimedia are presented. In all cases, discrete elements of cultural landscapes such as cattle droveways, Early Medieval necropoli, Spanish civil war military remains, roads, railways and bridges are treated as focal points or “gateways” to guide the visitor or local community toward a broader undertstanding of cultural landscape as a single holistic entity, rather than just the sum of disparate parts. This approach tries to escape from the traditional “monument island” approach that has governed European cultural heritage management for decades. Local knowledge is seen as key to a process of reconciliation between landscape and society, in which real value and meaning can be reclaimed for rural areas far from centres of economic power, which struggle to survive in an increasingly cynical and utilitarian world.

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