Digital Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Digital Innovative Approach Towards Sustainable Development of South African Rural Communities

Digital Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Digital Innovative Approach Towards Sustainable Development of South African Rural Communities

Tlou Maggie Masenya (Durban University of Technology, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5879-9.ch006
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Abstract

Given that cultural heritage resources are irreplaceable, their protection is critical. Digital preservation has become a popular method for safeguarding cultural heritage resources in recent years. The purpose of this chapter was to determine how digital preservation can be used as a strategy to promote access to cultural heritage for sustainable development of South African rural communities. Data collection was based on a critical review of literature in order to analyze policy and mechanisms being put in place for effective preservation of cultural heritage. Findings revealed that most of African rural communities do not have mechanisms for safeguarding their cultural heritage, and there is lack of technological tools for preservation of cultural heritage. Cultural heritage policy should also be implemented and better explained to the rural communities' authorities.
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Introduction

Cultural heritage has in recent years become a key driver for sustainable and territory development. Falser (2011) describe cultural heritage as the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group society that is inherited from past generations. It includes artefacts, monuments, and groups of buildings and sites that have a diversity of values including symbolic, historic, artistic, aesthetic, or anthropological, scientific and social significance (UNESCO, 2009). Petti, Trillo and Makore (2020) further described cultural heritage as the element that shapes the so called five senses, namely: historic buildings and environment, create the senses of belonging somewhere, of social traditions and cultural identity of historic continuity and foster the senses of ownership and responsibility. As pointed out by Aparac-Jelušić (2017) cultural heritage can be instrumental in enhancing social inclusion, stimulating and supporting intercultural dialog, shaping the identity of a territory, improving the quality of the environment, and nourishing social cohesion, as well as sense of self and belonging, when properly managed.

Cultural heritage can also be valued in a wide variety of ways, from the aesthetic and emotional pleasure gained from experiencing heritage sites, to the value of those sites as generators of revenue, jobs and training opportunities, as noted by Axelsson (2013). Tonta (2016) also stated that cultural heritage has an indirect effect on economy, by stimulating tourism development (promoting cultural tourism), hospitality sectors and the emergence of new trades and activities as well as creating employment opportunities and providing income. Various economic benefits can thus be generated by cultural heritage and its preservation, and among these are job and household income creation, job training, city center revitalization, heritage tourism, increase in property values, small business incubation, compatibility with modernization and compatibility with evolution, product differentiation and import substitution (Petti, Trolli & Makore, 2019). However, as stated by Grazuleviciute-Vileniske (2006), cultural heritage is not just of value to the individuals who own it or live in historic properties, it can also have a value to well-being and quality of life of communities, can help mitigate the impacts of cultural globalization and can become an incentive for sustainable development. Therefore, in order to implement sustainable development strategies and to improve quality of life, it is essential to use the potential of cultural heritage, especially the possibilities embodied in abandoned historic buildings and territories (Grazuleviciute-Vileniske, 2006).

Fostering local distinctiveness and sustaining cultural heritage are therefore the keys of building sustainable communities, as stated by Koch (2018). For example, the government of the United Kingdom has recognized that cultural heritage and historic environment can play a significant role towards meeting the defined sustainability targets (Axelsson, 2013). As a result, the Deputy Prime Minister in United Kingdom implemented the strategy for sustainable development, the Communities Plan, a long-term program of action for creating and maintaining sustainable communities in rural and urban areas (Power, 2004). The Community Plan lists a set of key requirements for sustainable communities that includes a sense of place, a safe and healthy local environment with well-designed public and green space, and a diverse vibrant and creative local culture encouraging pride in the community (Power, 2004).

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