Coastal cultural heritage – legacy and resource
Poul Holm (Trinity College Dublin, Ireland)
Coastal cultural heritage is a legacy as well as a resource for shaping the future. My talk will deal with the ability of societies to mediate and cope with change, providing a brief overview of the diversity of the coastal heritage of Europe ranging from metropolitan areas in the Mediterranean, struggling with human and environmental pressures on a rich maritime heritage to sparsely populated, environmentally fragile, Arctic coasts, particularly vulnerable to climate change and pressure from rapidly growing tourism; from port cities in Western Europe, with empty docklands and deserted industrial buildings to areas in the Baltic that are still adjusting to a post-Soviet era which saw economic and migratory shifts in significant parts of the coastal population; and transnational cultural diversity including a rich and still largely unknown underwater heritage, such as in the depths of the North and Black Sea. Finally, I will use the Dutch-German-Danish Waddensea as a concrete case of how one can work with communities and industry to promote cultural heritage.
El valor cultural del mar
Xavier Nieto Prieto (Cádiz University)
The cultural significance of the sea for coastal communities
John Mack (University of East Anglia, UK)
The starting point of this paper is the contention that, apart from the most land-locked parts of the globe, coastlines are the single most identifiable physical boundary in human experience. But, whilst a physical point of intersection, the coastline is also a conceptual boundary. Being at the margins, shorelines are places both of entry and of egress. Crossing this boundary has ritual, cosmological and symbolic implications which are often overlooked as recent scholarship has concentrated on port-to-port relationships and economic exchange. Whilst there is some literature which explores aspects of the boundary theme (Dening, Gillis or Corbin, for instance), littoral culture per se – the lives and understandings of communities living along coastlines - remains less well considered. It will be argued that coastlines are dynamic zones and that the communities that inhabit them are not simply the passive recipients of influences from the sea (or indeed the land). The essentially economic model of cultural interaction – that there are suppliers and receivers of ‘cultural’ traits, attitudes and technologies as there are of trade goods and services – is itself questioned. The central question posed is how the sea itself is conceptualised in coastal communities, and what the implications are for relationships to the sea? There is great cultural variability in how this question is to be answered. To get a fuller perspective a number of the examples to be discussed are chosen from the Atlantic coast of Africa rather than the more familiar shores of Europe which have attracted the greatest amount of attention and have influenced assumptions more widely about how seas might be understood.