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Heritage, landscape and spatial justice: new legal perspectives on heritage protection in the Lesser Antilles

This dissertation presents a legal geographical analysis of the heritage laws of the independent English-speaking islands of the Lesser Antilles.

A.B. Byer
24 June 2020
The publication in Open Access

The research considers the role of landscape or place (the spatial location of a community’s cultural identity) to sustainable heritage protection, given that these islands are former British colonies and their perceived ‘placelessness’ facilitated the destruction of land and the attendant community relationships essential for heritage, with the conversion to private property through the law.

The research question considers the degree to which modern heritage law is spatially just (responsive to the needs of local communities) given this colonial legacy. The research findings indicate that while international law has pivoted away from colonialist approaches to indigenous and local communities and their relationships with heritage resources (now centering them in the effective functioning of the landscape) domestic laws in the Lesser Antilles have not. Decolonisation of the current legislative framework thus requires the incorporation of landscape protection in the law. Procedural environmental rights such as access to environmental information and public participation in environmental decision-making offer a solution, because they can equip communities with the tools to contest landscape use where community cohesion is threatened, ultimately protecting heritage bearers and their practices.

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