n Africa Insight - Using the past to build the future : a critical review of the Liberation Heritage Route (LHR) Project of South Africa

Volume 44, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The Liberation Heritage Route, which appears on UNESCO's Tentative List of World Heritage, has been envisioned as a means of preserving the legacy of South Africa's freedom struggle and a possible economy booster through heritage tourism. The World Heritage status that the Route aspires to receive is an additional incentive to safeguard this important heritage; the prestige of the label draws visitors, thus not only helping to raise awareness of the history of the country and its people, but also contributing to the local economy. Hence, the initiative seems to represent a perfect example of an economically viable project for heritage conservation. However, not all sites, no matter how well preserved or publicised, automatically become money-making 'enterprises'. Should the unprofitable ones thus be abandoned as being unproductive? This article posits that the commercial value of liberation heritage sites should not overshadow the actual cultural value of these historic vestiges.

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