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Climate change and its impact on tangible cultural heritage: Challenges and prospects for small island nations

By Frank R. Thomas


There has been little discussion on the threat posed by global warming, rising seas, and coastal erosion to archaeological, historical, and other types of tangible cultural heritage sites located along the world’s coastlines. It is a well-known fact that for the smaller oceanic islands, most notably on low-lying atolls, sea-level rise is of immediate concern as present-day inhabitants have few options in relocating to higher ground. Unlike people who might consider moving off island, cultural heritage sites cannot easily be relocated to safer areas. Moreover, the strong “sense of place” experienced by Pacific island societies, and no doubt other insular communities, which includes overlapping cultural and natural assets of the land and seascape, highlights the need to preserve and protect these sites. Using a case study from Micronesia (Kiribati), it is argued that tangible cultural heritage should not be limited to strengthening cultural identity in a rapidly globalized world, but could also serve as a benchmark in providing long-term perspectives on environmental change, integrate itself with biodiversity conservation, create local opportunities for heritage tourism, as well as articulate with the use of traditional material culture and skills in modern-day contexts

Topics: GE Environmental Sciences, GN Anthropology
Publisher: Nova Science Publishers
Year: 2013
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