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The Role of cultural heritage in international politics: an analysis of the negative heritage sites in UNESCO world heritage

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2020
Tomaz, Gamze Zehra
This thesis analyses the role of cultural heritage in international politics by focusing on UNESCO and its management of negative heritage sites. The thesis first examines the historical development of the cultural heritage management system. Then, UNESCO and its management system are introduced by looking into World Heritage List and components of the system. Lastly, negative heritage sites in UNESCO World Heritage List are evaluated. By focusing on conflictual nature of the cultural heritage, it is proposed that UNESCO’s cultural heritage management system is highly politicized. As an attempt to analyse how politicized the process is, negative heritage sites and their inscription processes are investigated in detail. In doing so, two specific case studies, namely Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp and Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) are examined. In conclusion, it is argued that cultural heritage sites and more specifically negative heritage sites have significant implications for emphasizing the politicized nature of heritage and its function as an instrument to promote nation state interest.