Dr. Elif Kalaycioglu, “Governing Culture ‘Credibly’ : Contestation in the World Heritage Regime”

Governing Culture ‘Credibly’: Contestation in the World Heritage Regime

Dr. Elif Kalaycioglu (The University of Alabama)

Contribution in A. Phillips & C. Reus Smit, Culture and Order in World Politics, December 2019


UNESCO’s world heritage regime was founded in 1972 to identify and protect cultural and natural sites of ‘outstanding universal value,’ which constitute humanity’s common heritage. The identification and proper valuation of these sites, it was hoped, would interpellate a common humanity and foster identification with this humanity, thereby contributing to peaceful global relations. This chapter argues that the world heritage regime is a diversity regime that curates the world’s cultural diversity as part of world order-making. In turn, the changes in the world order since the regime’s establishment have resulted in challenges to the regime’s governance of culture based on a universal value and through scientific-technical evaluation by international experts. These challenges have resulted in increased resistance to international experts, the demand for the inclusion of local experts, and in two (competing) conceptions of credibility as scientific-technical adjudication and as representativity.