International Workshop on Social and Economic Impacts of Heritage and its Potential for Development
(4 June 2018)
On the 21st May 2018, an International Workshop as of the UCG-UKIERI Joint Research Programme, “Promoting Sustainable Pilgrimage and protection of Heritage sites in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, India” was held at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Co-organised between the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, University of Allahabad and the UNESCO Chair on Archaeological Ethics and Practice in Cultural Heritage, Durham University, the theme of the International Workshop was “Social and Economic Impacts of Heritage and its Potential for Development”.
Heritage has been identified as a potential driver in developing local economies by the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Bank. More recently, the Asian Development Bank’s ‘South Asia Tourism Infrastructure Development Project (Bangladesh, India, and Nepal)’ has incorporated tourism, including heritage and pilgrimage sites, within its framework for promoting sustained and accelerated development and the UN Millennium Development goals. This premise is shared by the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank which published its Buddhist Circuit Tourism Strategy in 2013 and stressed that pilgrimage and tourism will deliver “sustainable and inclusive economic growth” and that “benefits reach deep into local households”. However, these projects do not currently offer explicit tools for measuring either the social or the economic benefits of this investment, nor do they engage with the monitoring and protection of heritage threatened by the development that they promote.
The collaborative international programme is using workshops, practical field laboratories and data collection at heritage sites to tackle this evidence gap, developing new tools for benchmarking the current social and economic impacts of heritage and explore ways that sustainable pilgrimage and tourism can be better promoted at sites whilst protecting these finite and vulnerable resources. Coinciding with a field survey training as part of the research programme at Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, which aims to initiate an evaluation of the economic and social impacts of pilgrimage at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, this one day international workshop was the first of five that will be held during the duration of the research programme in both India and the UK.
The inaugural session of the international workshop included a Presidential address by the Honourable Vice Chancellor Professor Parimal H Vyas, who stressed the importance of the heritage and traditions of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and also the great potential of the intersections of research on economic development between different departments and international partners within the framework of the programme.
The Guest of Honour, Professor Sonawane, former Head of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, detailed the pioneering archaeological research at Champaner-Pavagadh by the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda from the 1970s onwards, which was the first time that modern excavation techniques were used at a medieval site in India. After an introduction to the workshop and a welcome to the national and international delegates by Professor K. Krishnan, Dean of Arts, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Professor Ajithprasad, Head of Department, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda gave the vote of thanks.
In the academic sessions the participants at the international workshop heard from a wide range of Indian and UK based speakers from across disciplines as well as academics and heritage practitioners, who presented their insights for discussing pathways to the protection of heritage and the development of heritage sites for positive social and economic impacts for local communities within India, South Asia, as well as globally.
The first session detailed the archaeological evidence from Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park and provided information on the current state of knowledge regarding the social and economic impacts of pilgrimage and tourism activities at the site. The second session then detailed case-studies from Gujarat, including aspects of community interaction and development relating to heritage within Ahmedabad, Vadodara as well as museums. The third session then took a broader perspective, including examples of available methods and approaches used for heritage protection but also for monitoring and evaluating impact of visitors on local communities within heritage sites across South Asia and globally. Finally, the fourth session brought together the delegates and participants to discuss emerging themes and develop pathways and trajectories towards promoting sustainable development at pilgrimage sites, whilst also protecting heritage and associating local communities.
The workshop was attended by 58 people.