Gradhiva n°18


The World According to Unesco

December 2013

Spokesperson for cultural diversity and the combat against racism, Unesco is known to the general public especially for the heritage protection. Since the sixties, the first world campaigns to save imperiled sites (Abou Simbel, Venice, Borobudur) introduced the idea that the preservation of heritage and its transmission to future generations constitutes a moral duty for humanity. The Unesco heritage list has today become a major challenge for governments and groups of individuals. This issue offers an ethnography of these heritage processes, by helping us to see how, little by little, the identification as heritage of the world in which we live is carried out.

Gradhiva explores inside meeting rooms where ideas of heritage and culture are negotiated and produced by specific actors and deciphers the effects induced by these global heritage policies. What happens when a social area and a cultural practice are listed by Unesco? When Unesco gets involved, heritage scenes tend to become complex and the cultural places and practices that it seeks to protect can be transformed. Tourism, gentrification, economic speculation, a feeling of dispossession by the inhabitants, nationalist claims and political rivalries are some of the unexpected consequences.

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Special issue: The world according to Unesco

Coordinated and presented by David Berliner and Chiara Bortolotto

  • Introduction : Le monde selon l’Unesco, by David Berliner and Chiara Bortolotto
  • Comment le patrimoine mondial de l’Unesco devient immatériel, by Christoph Brumann
  • L’Unesco comme arène de traduction, [Unesco as a Translation Arena], La fabrique globale du patrimoine immatériel, by Chiara Bortolotto
  • L’Unesco et le culturellement correct, by Bjarke Nielsen
  • Le secret exposé. Révélation et reconnaissance d’un patrimoine immatériel au Sénégal, by Ferdinand de Jong
  • Les hyper-lieux d’un patrimoine mondial, [The World Heritage Hyper-sites] by David Berliner and Manon Istasse


  • Comment parvenir à un consensus. De la Commission sur la culture et le développement à la Convention de 2003, by Lourdes Arizpe

Studies and essays

  • Le musée comme lieu d’administration de la preuve. Genèse et destin de deux collections du XIXe siècle, by Sophie A. de Beaune
  • Archéologie et ventriloquie [Archaeology and ventriloquism:] Jeux de chaises et de choses au bord d’une tranchée archéologique, by Emmanuel Grimaud

Book reviews

  • « Faulkner. Le nom, le sol et le sang »,  [the name, the earth and the blood”] by Gaetano Ciarcia
  • « Claude Lévi-Strauss, un parcours dans le siècle » and « Les Structures de l’esprit. [“Claude Lévi-Strauss : A journey through the century” and “The Structures of the spirit:] Lévi-Strauss et les mythes », [Levi-Strauss and the myths”] by Vincent Debaene

Scientific column 



  • 264 pages (20 x 27 cm)
  • 100 illustrations
  • ISBN : 9 782357 440722
  • €20