Community involvement & ecomuseums : towards a mutual approach to ecomuseology and landscape studies
Abstract: Ecomuseums are museums for, by, and about people at home in their own environment (Keyes, 1992). Since their establishment in 1971, community involvement has been a defining characteristic of ecomuseums. Such community involvement does not just preserve artefacts, but also protects and creates its own physical environment in the form of landscape. In ecomuseums, landscape is both a setting and a feature; however, there have been relatively few studies of landscape in ecomuseology. Furthermore, despite the centrality of community involvement, in many ecomuseums there is an overemphasis on economic development rather than community involvement in heritage protection and local development. This thesis contributes to a new theoretical and interdisciplinary field of landscape research, focusing on the significance of involvement in ecomuseums. The connection between ecomuseum and landscape could serve to guide the work of ecomuseum management and landscape administrators. Various approaches, both quantitative and qualitative, have been used to elucidate different aspects and applications of the proposed theoretical framework. The findings demonstrate the dual role of landscape, for it is not only conceptual or visual, observed from the outside, but also comprise the insider’s landscape, with all its experience and local involvement. The dual role is also evident in the cultural and economic development of ecomuseums—the questions here being whose heritage is represented in ecomuseums, and who is in control of their economic development. The findings show how heritage held in ecomuseums serves to create a sense of place, turning a conceptual space into a place of experience. Community development in ecomuseums is based on community involvement in administrative procedures, and not only involvement in the ecomuseums’ cultural and economic development. The thesis proposes a new theoretical field of ecomuseum landscape within an interdisciplinary approach. The thesis steps away from administrative, top-down approaches and instead adopts an open-ended process that involves different levels of involvement, encompassing volunteers, administrators, and researchers.
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