Challenges to the predominantly European conception of heritage enshrined in the 1972 World Heritage Convention arose in the early 1990s, from both the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its member states. In 1992, the Friends of the Rideau, a Canadian nongovernmental organization in charge of the eponymous canal’s heritage, launched a campaign to inscribe their site on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Canadian government, spurred to action by the Friends’ initiative, took the lead in orchestrating the diplomatic ballet necessary to validate canals as a form of World Heritage—one that challenged the predominantly European aesthetic understanding of heritage. The Friends’ and Canada’s interactions in favor of inscribing the Rideau demonstrate how global norms can be appropriated by local communities, and how the process can in turn influence the very same global norms. Furthermore, this case provides empirical evidence for the legitimizing function of expertise.


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pp. 491-520
Launched on MUSE
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