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Digital defense Amanda Byer

Wednesday 24 June 2020
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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.  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.

Because there is no common law right to landscape, lessons from international law may be applied using the Escazú Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean.  This treaty commits States parties to the protection of procedural environmental rights: access to environmental information, public participation, and access to environmental justice.  This will empower communitites to contest landscape use where community cohesion is threatened, protecting heritage bearers and practices via the protection of the landscape.

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