Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Definition Of The Cultural Heritage Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 5513 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

Literature demonstrates that cities and towns have always been the central attraction for visitors. Urban areas therefore have an important role to play as they are arenas for heritage activities. Judd and Fainstein (1999) further add: “urban visitors are drawn by cultural, historical, architectural, and ethnic attractions” (pp 63). Thus, much consideration is given in existing papers about local population’s attitudes since a happy community is likely to support and perceived development positively.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

According to the dictionary, heritage implies «what is or may be handed to a person from his ancestors». Heritage is regarded as the fastest and most significant growing sub-component of the tourism industry. The broader meaning of “Heritage” is link with the word “inheritance”. Therefore, suggesting something that is transferred from one generation to another. If we refer to Christou (2005) “The role of heritage as a carrier of historical value from the past means that it is seen as part of the cultural tradition of society” (p 4). Law (2002) notes that increasing education leads to more awareness on the importance of heritage and culture. In today’s world, people are more interested in historical, artistic or lifestyle heritage of a group, region or community (Silberberg, 1995).

The subject “Heritage” has gained increasing attention and generated a great deal of literature from a range of discipline: heritage tourism definition (Poria, Butler and Airey, 2001), managing visitor (Airey and Shackley, 1998; Muresan, 1998), tourism development in heritage destinations (Boyd, 2002; Carr, 1994; Garrod and Fyall, 2000), planning and managing heritage destination (Cheung, 1999; Frochot and Hughes, 2000), heritage attractions and interpretation (Dewar, 2000; Grimwade and Carter, 2000), pricing issues (Fyall and Garrod, 1998), community development and heritage sites (Dicks, 2000; Grimwade and Carter, 2000), marketing heritage sites (Nuryanti, 1996), perception of tourists towards heritage sites (Poria, Butler and Airey, 2003), motivation to visit (Poria, Reichel and Biran, 2006), and visitors classification at heritage attractions (Espelt and Benito, 2006).

It is important, nevertheless, to differentiate each type of heritage sites that exist. Research has focused on cultural (Richards, 1996), natural (Hall, 2000) and built elements (Laws, 1998).

Cultural Heritage:

The surge for museum development underlines the important role of culture and cultural attraction in modern world. Richards (1996) demonstrated that cultural attractions gained increasing importance in modern societies. The role of cultural monuments does not only pertain to managing museums and other monuments but it extends to urban development strategies and branding programmes. Cultural attractions have also helped in policy making and promoting their development. Adding to the economic importance of culture is its role in reinforcing and establishing identity.

Increasing literacy among local people renders culture more accessible. Accordingly, the effects of globalisation create an interest for national heritage (Richards, 1996). Globalisation has mostly concentrated on the economic impacts. But nowadays, increasing attention is given to “Cultural Globalisation”. According to Nijman (1999) it is the “acceleration in the exchange of cultural symbols among people around the world, to such an extent that it leads to changes in local popular cultures and identities” (pp 148). This implies that local communities are more aware of the essence of their culture and work to establish their identities and claim back their heritage (Richards, 1999).

It is a fact that culture changes; it is not static. Research has demonstrated that developing countries are easily influenced by Western mode of living, lifestyles, traditions etc… The more the world becomes a global village, the more the surge to differentiate one culture with another. Resulting in revival of national cultural idioms, renewed interest in local and regional history, folklore, etc. Being proud of own history and erection of building for the memorial of cultures and past traditions show the move towards creating one own identity in our complex world. The shaping of our identity is reflected in Port-Louis where there is the “Musée de la photographie”, the Post Museum and many other historical attractions that are unique. These all result in the creation of awareness towards local patrimonial history and past. Thus, helping in the dissemination of information to new generations. Port-Louis tries to build a different profile based on distinct atmosphere (celebration of Chinese Spring festival), people (a mixture of all cultures living near to each other), heritage (places of interest are unique in the island overall) and customs (people living in the capital are more used to out-doors events).

Natural Heritage:

Geographers have significantly played an essential role in understanding and contributing to the preservation of natural areas and resources. Legal protection and conservation of natural areas have long been driven by economic and political motives (Hall, 2000). Geographers’ contributions in understanding the importance of landscape conservation are as follows:

Environmental history of natural parks and areas

The value related to these wilderness places

The identification and inventory of wild lands

The demand for natural places for recreational activities

The supply of natural places for recreational purposes

The elaboration of natural areas/parks policy for managing resources efficiently and effectively.

Demand for natural spaces is related to 2 main factors: 1. awareness towards the importance of natural environment and 2. access to natural spaces. Zube (1987) argues that “geographic and psychological literature suggests that in order to understand individual behaviour in a particular space, it is necessary to reveal certain aspects of the links between the individual and that space”.

Empirical studies conducted in the last decade showed that social scientists have developed a range of concepts describing people-place relations. The geographer Tuan (1974) and the environmental psychologist Steele (1981), presented the main feature of the concept people-place relations, “sense of place,” which includes in its definition the meanings, attachment, and satisfaction an individual associates with a particular place (Stedman 2003). Literature understands this as an encompassing concept that place associations are as diverse as ‘at homeness’ (Seamon 1979), ‘place attachment’ (Altman and Low 1992), ‘place dependence’ (Williams et al 1992), ‘place identity’ (Twigger-Ross and Uzzel 1996), or ‘regionalisation’ (Backhaus and Müller 2006). These studies show that distinct socio-cultural groups produce components of the natural environment differently. Thus, people ascertain different relations to places, depending on their interests, cultural values and individual experiences (Kianicka et al 2006). In other words, man acts upon his environment and is consequently influenced by it.

In the case of the capital city, the wild environment is limited to the mountain range and some inhabited spaces.

Built Heritage:

Forests have since colonial times been cut out for settlers. Ebony trees were cut by the Dutch for their precious value and exported to Jakarta (now Indonesia). Then, the French came to occupy the territory and consequently brought development in the island. They open the way for agriculture and towns. Until now the vestiges of built elements of the past are still found across the island, starting from colonial houses or more important places like Parliament House.

Built heritage has long been associated with economic ends. Nowadays, built heritage also entails to deal with ecological, economic and social issues. Referring to Kibert (1999) ; ” The creation, maintenance, renovation and exchange of elements of the built environment provide the economic element of the equation” (pp 2). If we consider this to the case of Mauritius, we will see that some of the budget income is allocated for the construction or renovation of heritage sites. Estimates for 2010, according to the official site of the Mauritian government, about Rs 91,460,000 has been allocated for the preservation and promotion of heritage over the island. However, built heritage is largely associated to cultural activities – from great monuments for religious purposes to evocative architectural monuments, according to Drost (1996).


The UNESCO convention of 1972 in Paris establishes the definition of cultural and natural heritage. According to Article 1 of the convention text, Cultural heritage concerns the following:

“monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;

Groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;

Sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.”

Whereas Article 2 defines natural heritage as follows:

“Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;

Geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation;

Natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.”

Having defined distinct elements of natural and cultural heritage facilitates the process of conservation and protection of these areas delineated in each category. They are constantly threatened either by natural decay or simply because of alterations in economic and social conditions. Lost or deterioration in heritage constitutes an impoverishment of national identity.


As an integral component of culture, heritage is a fundamental element of national emblem with the potential to continuously remind residents about the symbolic representation upon which is based a sense of belonging. The sense of national belonging, rooted in the collective memories, representing a nation and its population, lies at the heart of maintaining the existence of a country and fortifying sovereignty of a nation. Consequently, Macdonald (2006) recognises heritage as a ”material testimony of identity”, which is primarily interpreted as a ”discourse and set of practices concerned with the continuity, persistence and substantiality of collective identity” (p.11).

Heritage is a sign and a token of a nation’s people ethnicities, identities and nationalities but subject to multiple interpretations and meanings. Thus, the socio-psychological dimensions of heritage are of fundamental importance in understanding how people’s perceptions, individualised meanings and subjective feelings concerning collective social memories contribute to the long-standing appeal of heritage artefacts.

Papers further note that heritage artefacts play a crucial role in the promotion and maintenance of a nation (Palmer, 1998). Regarding heritage as symbolic cultural production is closely linked to understanding the core of national identity. Heritage can be viewed as a token of past for shared traditions and memories of the actual society rather than just representing mere elements of bygone times. Geertz (1973) and Meethan (2001) suggest that this ”symbolic system” can help in promoting collective values in contemporary societies. In addition, heritage is also recognised to be a ”unifying sign” (Bessière, 1998), which maintains and creates the shared memory of a social group. Leading to adding more value to the group’s social and cultural identities. Bessière (1998, p. 26) asserts:

“Heritage, whether it be an object, monument, inherited skill or symbolic representation, must be considered as an identity marker and distinguishing feature of a social group. Heritage is often a subjective element because it is directly related to a collective social memory…social memory as a common legacy preserves the cultural and social identity of a given community, through more or less ritualized circumstances.”

Nonetheless, it is crucial to recognise that the concept behind “nationalism” and trying to define national identity are quite difficult in real life because of the complexity of differing contexts. This is the reason why there is a general disagreement in defining the concept of “nationalism” (Hutchinson & Smith, 1994; Kedourie, 1994). Nevertheless, in order to understand this approach, attention is drawn to two concepts: the ”modernistic perspective” and the ”primordial perspective”. The first approach (Anderson, 1983; Gellner, 1983; Nairn, 1997) recognises “nations as products of modern historical developments and processes”. Emphasis is laid on the creation of a shared identity by residents.

In contrast, the second approach (Geertz, 1973; Smith, 1991, 1994) acts as a focal point on the antiquity and the socio-cultural involving ethnicities. The primordial approach lay emphasis on individual’s perceptions and beliefs which imply the ”assumed givens of social existence” (Geertz, 1973, p. 259). Thus, including a collective heritage and culture. Here, identities are believed to be innate cultural elements that are deeply rooted. As Smith (1994, p. 376) recapitulates:

“It was and is the members of ethnic communities and nations who feel their communities are primordial, existing almost ‘out of time’ and having an ‘ineffable’ binding and almost overpowering quality. It is no part of this approach to suggest that such communities are primordial, only that members feel they are (emphasis added).”

This statement shows the importance in understanding that people’s culture and nation is sacred. Therefore, resulting in understanding the core of cultural primordialism. But existing papers mention the changing patterns which acts on contexts and situation. Literature adds that national identity and its main attributes should constantly be reviewed to reflect the varying norms and values of actual society’s culture. Thus leading to the comprehension of population perception.


Before going any further, it is essential to have a look at what we consider heritage in Mauritius. In order to promote and maintain our national heritage, there exists the National Heritage Act 2003.

Under the National Heritage Act 2003 section 2, are some of the following definitions:

“cultural significance” means aesthetic, anthropological, archaeological, architectural, botanical, ethnological, geological, historical, linguistic, paleontological, scientific, social, spiritual or technological value;

“intangible heritage” means intangible aspects of inherited culture and includes culinary arts, cultural traditions, customs, festivities, oral history and traditions, performing arts, rituals, popular memory and skills and techniques connected with material aspects of culture;

“monument” means – 

any structure of cultural significance, remains of such a structure, building or group of buildings, which, because of its homogeneity or its place in the landscape is of outstanding value; and  

architectural work, work of monumental sculpture and painting, element or structure of an archaeological nature, inscription, cave dwelling which is of outstanding value;

“national heritage” means –

a national heritage designated in section 12 and specified in the Schedule; and 

includes a national monument designated under the repealed National Monuments (Designation) Regulations 1985 and specified in the Schedule.

 “site” means any area on land or underwater, with or without any structure, building, monument or object, thereon having a cultural significance.

These clearly show the recognition of our national heritage and thus working towards valorisation campaigns and promoting these artefacts. In addition to the Act 2003, comes a National Heritage Fund. The fund was established for the purpose of the Act 2003.

Section 4, under the Act 2003 describes the objectives of the fund as:

“safeguard, manage and promote the national heritage of Mauritius; 

preserve the national heritage sites as a source material for scientific and cultural investigation and as an enduring basis for the purposes of development, leisure, tourism and enjoyment of present and future generations worldwide; and

educate and sensitise the public on cultural values, national heritage and to instill a sense of belonging and civic pride with respect to national heritage.”


Natural Heritage

Mauritius, a volcanic island, situated in the Indian Ocean and surrounded by coral reefs that give several sandy beaches. Indeed the South scenery is different due to a breech in the barrier line, presenting a more wild character.

Internationally speaking, Mauritius is recognised for its unique flora and fauna but there remain only 1% of our endemic plant which used to cover the island. Many of the remaining species struggle to survive due to various factors like: introduction of new plants and devastation caused by introduced animals on the island. Forest was also cleared for sugar cane plantation and other agriculture-related purposes which worsen the situation.

The Tourism development plan of Mauritius (Deloitte & Touche, 2002) assesses the natural resources in view of further developing the tourism industry. As a result, much concern was drawn towards the assets that the Island possesses.

Historical Heritage

The various ethnicity of the Mauritian population both ethnically and religiously add to the assets of the country.

Port-Louis Heritage Trail

Referring to the Tourism Development Plan (Deloitte & Touche, 2002), the island’s heritage sites are an integral component of the Tourism sector. In a view of diversifying the tourism product, places of interest like Port-Louis classified under “special Destination areas” were identified. There is for instance, a proposed development for “Port-Louis Heritage trail” which is a follows:

Option a:

“a short tour of the most important areas including the Place d’Armes and Government House, Pope Hennessy St and Champs de Mars, the Market, Cathedral square, the Court of Justice, the Theatre, Jardin de la Compagnie, the Museum, Rue du Vieux Conseil, the Jummah Mosque and the Citadelle.”

Option b:

“a long tour more specialised for those particularly interested in vernacular architecture, would be extended to old houses in the area between rue Saint Georges and Edith Cavell, area between Labourdonnais and Mère Barthélémy St, rue de La Poudrière, St James Cathedral area, Pasteur Street area, the area between St Louis Cathedral and the Champs de Mars, Canals of Le Pouce, Line Barracks and Victoria Station, the Chinese quarter for its atmosphere and as extension to Plaine verte with small historical houses.”

The literature demonstrates that Port-Louis is an ideal location to conduct a survey. The characteristics mentioned above are given as proof.


Residents’ perception is driven by the ‘man-environment” interrelationship. Existing papers suggest that it is a dynamic factor whereby man acts upon his milieu according to his desires, activities and capabilities. Therefore, adapting to the prevailing environmental conditions in a milieu. The key variables in the link between man and environment result in perception and cognition – “The internal mental processes by which individual sense, perceive, interpret and make decision about their environment” (Gold, 1980).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

The terms perception and cognition have been used primarily in the field of psychology. However the association vanished with time. Perception as well as cognition is widely used in other fields like environment psychology or tourism. As a matter of fact, cognition is the broader aspect of mental processes and includes perception. If we refer to Yadav (1980): “the frameworks of cognition include sensing, perceiving, remembering, imagining, judging, deciding and adopting or any other mental process”. But perception is more specific. It refers to the “psychological function that enables the individual to convert sensory stimulation into organised and coherent experience” (Gold, 1980).

Approaches to perception in urban areas have received much attention by researchers during the past decades. Much research is conducted to enable scholars to understand the perception towards the city at large, but in our case towards heritage sites. Downs (1970) in his attempts has developed threefold fundamental reasoning to examine perception in an urban environment. His first approach was to urge towards the “structural approach which is concerned with the way in which the array of information about a place is perceived” (Downs & Stea, 1970). This implies that an individual cannot remember all elements that are seen in an environment. Man usually follows a process of selection and then structure what has been perceived. The process of selection suggests that unnecessary detail is left aside and useful data considered. The second step consists of an evaluation approach: “in which an individual after obtaining knowledge and experience of the environment, evaluates its distinct character so that he can make decisions and take action according to the image held about a particular environment” (Down & Stea, 1970). The last approach is about preference. It suggests that the individual develops a sense of much liking towards a particular site.


In order to obtain a reliable and comprehensive approach to the dissertation title, we need to analyse the type of urban perception that exist. Appleyard (1973) advocates three rational dimensions as follows:

Operational Perception: When an individual decides to move in a city, many component of the city becomes familiar. As a matter of fact, these components are points of reference in the day to day life. A mental structure is created within the mind of the resident through repetitive activities of seeing, remembering and evaluating urban elements.

Most elements of the city are perceived because of these operational attributes. It suggests that perception is driven by the operations and activities that are produced by the environment.

Responsive Perception: Singularity, uniqueness or unusual element impact on man’s sensors and thus create a response; catching the eyes.

On the other hand, a responsive perception occurs when a distinctive element is more powerful than the operational perception. Appleyard (1973) adds that perception is, therefore, more passive than active during such instances.

Inferential Perception: Residents compare their experience with paralleled situations.

Finally, inferential perception is matching existing experience with individual needs and expectations.

Urban classification is used here as a basis to develop a theoretical analysis. In order to achieve this, there is a need to examine two components that determine perception: place (in our case heritage sites) and individual (residents and visitors). Literature put emphasis on “stressors” that affect individual perception towards heritage sites. Stressors in some papers are referred as impacts: economic (Akis, Peristianis, & Warner, 1996; Davis, Allen, & Cosenza, 1988; Getz, 1986; Husband, 1989; Liu et al., 1987), environmental (Butler, 1980; Hillery, Nancarrow, Grif¬n, & Syme, 2001; Liu & Var, 1986; Liu, Sheldon, & Var, 1987), social (Ap, 1992; Belisle & Hoy, 1980; Brunt & Courtney, 1999) and cultural impacts (Besculides, Lee, & McCormick, 2002; Johnson, Snepenger, & A is, 1994; Keogh, 1990). These dimensions of the environment are related to behaviour which results in either favourable or unfavourable perception according to existing papers.

It is logical, however, to conclude that hosts’ attitudes are driven by perceived impacts mentioned above and may influence residents’ perception. The aim in measuring residents’ perceptions is in an attempt to mitigate: “the frequency of unexpected changes, to moderate the unforeseen or undesired consequences of planned or ineluctable changes, and to facilitate sustainable planning aiming at the moderation (or compensation against) of the unavoidable negative impacts.” (Nunkoo, R. & Ramkissoon, H., 2010).


The objective of the research is to understand perception of either host or visitors towards heritage sites and there behaviour within the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1988). Empirical studies show the link between perception and behaviour (Poria, Reichel & Biran, 2006). However, many theoretical bases for measuring perception used the Social Exchanged Theory (SET) (Ap, 1992). SET as described by the author: “a general sociological theory concerned with understanding the exchange of resources between individuals and groups in an interaction situation” (p.668). The Theory of Planned Behaviour, however, remains unpopular in measuring perception within heritage sites context. Moreover, it is a widely theoretical basis for 222 studies published in the Medline database and 610 studies published in the PsycINFO database, from 1985 to January 2004.

Previous scholars used the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) to assess the link between attitudes and intention. The theory pays attention to impacts of the cognitive elements like attitudes, social norms and intentions that drive to behaviour. The model assumes that behaviour is influenced by intentions which in turn are influenced by society (subjective norms), attitude and belief. Later on Ajzen added to the variable of TRA the perceived behavioural control as an additional pre-action before intention. This led to the TPB (figure 1).

Figure 1: Planned Behaviour Model (Source: Icek Ajzen 2006)

Behavioural Beliefs

It refers to the probability that the behaviour produces specific outcomes. The link between behavioural beliefs and the fact that these lead to given outcomes determine attitude toward the behaviour. In our case, we are trying to understand attitude toward heritage sites.

The attitude toward the behaviour explained by Icek Ajzen (2006), “the degree to which performance of the behaviour is positively or negatively valued”. Attitude toward behaviour can be determined by the total number of achievable behavioural beliefs.

Normative Beliefs

According to Ajzen (2006), these suggest that behavioural expectations are being altered due to important referent relatives such as spouses, friends and families. It implies that those normative values combine with self motivation factors to comply with the different referents exigencies, determine the actual subjective norms. In simple words, the subjective norms express how peer pressures or referent affect the way an individual behave in society. In our particular case, we are trying to see whether positive or negative perceptions toward heritage sites are driven by groups or community pressures.

Subjective norm is what we think the society will accept individual to engage in or not. As a general rule, the more auspicious the attitude and subjective norms, the greater the perceived control and the likelier is the individual intention to do the behaviour.

Control Beliefs

Control belief is to do with factors that are present either to ease or not the acting of the behaviour. It is supposed that control beliefs result into perceived behavioural control.

This control refers to individual’s ability to perform a given behaviour. It is also assumed that the total set of control beliefs lead to perceived behavioural control.


It is the combination of the 3 factors that is, attitude toward the behaviour, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. The weight of each factor determines the behaviour. Intention, therefore, implies the readiness of an individual to perform a specific behaviour.

Actual Behavioural Control

The actual control refers to the extent to which people are expected to carry out what they intend with respect to skills, resources and pre-requisites factors that are necessary to conduct the behaviour itself on the right occasion. We then assume that intention is closely link to behaviour. The success of performing behaviour is controlled by favourable or unfavourable factors of intention. To such extent that if perceived behavioural control is exact, it can serve as a substitute to actual control and contribute to the realisation of the behaviour.


Behaviour is the response from the variables described above. There is a link between the variables of attitude, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control. In the theory of Planned Behaviour, is the function of compatibility of intentions and perceived behavioural control. However in practice, even if perception and intentions lead to the main effect of behaviour, there is no proof of significant action upon influence of each other.


To predict whether a person intends to do something, we need to know:

•If the person is in favour of doing it (attitude).

•How much social pressure does the person feel to do it (subjective norm)?

•Does the person feel in control of the action in question (perceived behavioural control)?

The 3 main variables of the theory are 1) attitude towards the behaviour, 2) subjective norms and 3) perceived behavioural control. By changing these three ‘variables/ predictors’, we can increase the chance that the person will intend to do a desired action and thus increase the chance of the person actually doing it.

The TPB, therefore, seems an appropriate model to understand the various factors that are likely to influence an individual behavioural intention (Intention to visit); laying emphasis on individual belief and attitude, self expectations, and what society expects individual to engage in.

According to the dictionary, intention is explained as an action that an individual planned and want to do. The previous derivation of the theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1985) suggests that intention is; “trying to perform a given behaviour rather than in relation to actual performance”. Given the close link between behaviour and intention, it is possible to ascertained intention element. Relating to the dissertation title, visitation of heritage components is obviously the planned action element.

Existing literature on heritage features has already ascertained that visitors are motivated by different factors (Asworth, 2001). This study tries to explain Mauritian percept


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: