Ecomuseums and Community Sustainability

Peter Davis (GB) and Donatella Murtas (I)

One important reaction to globalization in the 21st century has been the democratization of culture and heritage. We have witnessed how local communities have increasingly attempted to take responsibility for their heritage resources and use them to create a sense of community while at the same time encouraging sustainable economic development through ecotourism and cultural tourism. In these community-heritage-sustainability interactions ecomuseum philosophy and the associated practical processes have frequently been used to assist local residents to define, validate and celebrate local distinctiveness and local identity. Peter Davis will first introduce the ecomuseum and the principles under which they work, utilising examples from around the world.

Donatella Murtas will then describe her work in ecomuseum development in the small town of Cortemilia in northern Italy, an area once renowned for its high quality agricultural produce. It had suffered, like many other rural areas in Europe, from economic decline, emigration and the consequent abandonment of farmland. In addition, from 1889 to 1996 the valley had been heavily polluted by a chemical factory and in 1994 a terrible flood emphasized the fragility of a cultural landscape that had lost its purpose. The terraced hillsides lay partly ruined at the bottom of the valley, a visual metaphor for environmental and social erosion. The townspeople of Cortemilia assessed their options to meet the future and were encouraged to utilize the town’s historic tangible and intangible heritage and extraordinary landscape. The ecomuseum approach was chosen as a way forward in this project; the processes of engaging the community, the varied projects, the successes (and the problems) will be illustrated and discussed.

Centrum pro studium kulturně historického dědictví při Katedře dějin
a didaktiky dějepisu PedF UK

M. D. Rettigové 4
Praha 1, 116 39