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 City & Time > Vol. 4, No. 2 (2009) open journal systems 

Judgement and validation in the Burra Charter Process: Introducing feedback in assessing the cultural significance of heritage sites

Silvio Mendes Zancheti, CECI and UFPE (Brazil)
Lúcia Tone Ferreira Hidaka, Federal University of Alagoas
Cecilia Ribeiro, Federal University of Pernambuco
Barbara Aguiar, Center for Advanced Studies in Integrated Conservation

The conservation of sites of cultural significance has been the main objective of management programs and projects in heritage areas for approximately the last 30 years. In the 1990s, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) started to require a Statement of Cultural Significance to be attached to applications for inclusion of sites in the World Heritage List. This fact confirmed the importance of the concept of ?cultural significance? which was introduced by Australia ICOMOS in the Burra Charter. The Charter also changed the way significance was understood, by enlarging the scope of its values and attributing their identification to the agents involved in the process of conserving the site: the stakeholders. This document is useful for its insights into the construct of significance, but the Burra Charter Process needs to be altered on account of the challenges of the plural, multivalent and contingent nature of values. This article puts forward a proposal on how the Burra Charter Process might be altered. Significance is defined as a set of values: the result of the judgment of past and present values and meanings, which are laid down and socially accepted through an intersubjective process of judgment and validation in the long term. The judgments are made in the present and draw on the values and meanings of the past. Moreover, significance is supported by instruments of memory recognized by plural societies. Therefore, cultural significance undergoes changes and should be reevaluated and reconstructed from time to time.

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City & Time  ISSN: 1807-7544