Challenging Conservation-as-usual: Reflections on the Politics of Heritage Governance in Modern Turkey

Creative Commons License

Büyüksaraç G.

Archaeology, Society and Sustainable Development, Ankara, Turkey, 05 October 2017, pp.5

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Ankara
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.5


The hegemonic understandings of heritage governance imply positive correlation between “conservation” and “sustainability” as categories of public policy. However, when it comes to implementation and overall effectiveness, the connection between the two turns out to be much more intricate and conflictual than it is assumed, projected, or propagated. In this talk, I would like to problematize the conventional understandings of conservation and their consequences for the sustainability of social life, focusing on the case of Köprülü Canyon National Park. This paper is based on a research I have been conducting in the ancient Pisidia region, as part of the Living Amid the Ruins (LAR) Project carried out by the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara (BIAA), funded by British Academy Sustainable Development Program (Dr. Lutgarde Vandeput, PI & Dr. Işılay Gürsu, Co-I). My engagement with the larger project has two strands. As a team member, I inquire into the socio-environmental conditions of “sustainable development” peculiar to the heritage sites. At the same time, as a political anthropologist, I am concerned with the socio-political implications of heritage conservation policies, which frequently put local communities in conflict with policy implementers over property rights, land-use and access to natural resources. I also seek to understand the interactions of local communities with agents of the state bureaucracy, archaeological and ecological expertise, and heritage capitalism.