This volume examines perspectives on maritime and underwater cultural heritage (MUCH) in southern Africa and proposes new management approaches to advance protection and public engagement. By redefining the maritime historical narratives in countries that have predominantly interpreted their maritime past through colonial shipwrecks, it is possible to create an environment in which stakeholders become active participants in heritage management. The application of a broad maritime cultural landscape perspective that blurs the lines between the natural and cultural, tangible and intangible, and local and global binaries that are often applied to MUCH, results in a community-driven, relevant approach to heritage management. Appropriate management strategies are supported by balancing western based heritage values with alternative approaches to heritage conservation. Case studies illustrate the evolution and efficacy of this approach.
Jonathan Sharfman’s position as manager of the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit at the South African Heritage Resources Agency provided him with the opportunity to observe management practices in action and gain valuable data to complete this research. He is continuing his work at the Dhakira Center for Heritage Studies at New York University Abu Dhabi.