Community perception of heritage values regarding a global monument in Ghana: implications for sustainable heritage management
Scholarly discourses regarding heritage values for sustainable heritage management abound in heritage literature but appear elitist as they tend to exclude the perspectives of the people at the lower echelons of society. The study explored the values ascribed to a global heritage monument by the people living around a global heritage site in Ghana and the implications of their perceptual values for sustainable heritage management.Design/methodology/approachThis study used the qualitative design. It was guided by Costin’s heritage values, community attachment theory and values-based approach to heritage management. Data was gathered from the local people living close to the heritage site, and the staff of Museums and Monuments Board at the heritage site. Data were gathered through focus group discussions and in-depth interviews and analysed using the thematic approach and most significant stories.FindingsThe results revealed that the local people were aware of the economic, aesthetic, historic, symbolic and informational values of the heritage monument but showed little attachment to the monument. The main reasons for the low attachment were the limited opportunity for them to participate in the management of the monument, and the limited opportunity for direct economic benefits from the heritage asset.Research limitations/implicationsA comprehensive understanding of heritage monument management that reflects the perspectives and values of the local people is imperative.Practical implicationsUnited Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Ghana Museums and Monuments Board could consider a more community-inclusive heritage management framework that takes cognizance of local values and perspectives to ensure sustainable heritage management and development.Social implicationsThe values and perspectives of the local community matter in heritage management. The heritage authorities need to engage more with the community people and educate them on the best practices regarding the sustainable management of World Heritage Sites.Originality/valueThis paper argues that the management of global heritage sites should not be elitist in orientation and character. It should respect the principle of community participation for inclusive development.