Perspectives on the <em>Heritagisation </em>of the Swan Valley, Western Australia — ASN Events

Perspectives on the Heritagisation of the Swan Valley, Western Australia (13311)

Valeria Paul 1
  1. The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA, Australia

In the French-speaking social sciences (covering disciplines such as geography or sociology), the notion of patrimonialisation is pivotal, meaning the contingent processes by which places, objects, memories, etc. are selected and eventually considered to be ‘heritage’. This concept has been translated into English as heritagisation, but it remains modest in its influence. Indeed, a search in Google (March 2014) shows how heritagisation obtains 2,460 results, while patrimonialisation more than 130,000.

While in Australia it is widely acknowledged that heritage is a negotiated and/or contested selection (Jones and Shaw, 2007),1 the notion of heritagisation applied to landscapes is a rather more marginal perspective. However, UNESCO has recognised in recent years several World Heritage sites that have been designated as significant “cultural landscapes”. A case in point are vineyard areas with high scenic qualities, such as Saint-Émilion in France, Wachau in Austria, or Alto Douro in Portugal. It can be argued that the initiative in South Australia to designate the Mount Lofty Ranges as World Heritage bears witness to this UNESCO list, although to date this push has been unsuccessful.

This paper considers heritagisation of vineyard landscapes and discusses this in the context of the Swan Valley in Western Australia. Drawing on this concept, it focuses on the cultural attributes, development pressures and political conflict surrounding the Swan Valley, including various attempts to preserve the region on the basis of its heritage value. The paper draws comparisons with similar cases elsewhere, most notably on the Iberian Peninsula and other parts of Europe. 

  1. Jones, R. and Shaw, B.J. (eds.) (2007): Geographies of Australian Heritages. Loving a Sunburnt Country? Aldershot: Ashgate.