Where the global meets the local: managing caves as heritage places within a mining and extractive industry in the Lao PDR

Roberts, Nicholas (2020) Where the global meets the local: managing caves as heritage places within a mining and extractive industry in the Lao PDR. SPAFA Journal, 4. 617.

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Caves meet many unique human and cultural needs as a geological component of local ecology. Within Vilabouly District, Savannakhet Province, southern Lao PDR, caves and their surrounding environments are identified to hold multiple uses and values for local Phou Tay and Brou ethnolinguistic groups. Caves hold overlapping and interdependent uses and values between the past, the present, and the future, and can be considered as ‘living’ and often ‘sacred’ natural places. Establishment of the Sepon Gold & Copper Mine (Sepon Mine) in Vilabouly District during the early 21st century introduced a range of new ideas, uses, and values for caves via implementation of international regulations and ‘best practice’ for cultural heritage and environmental management. International definitions and practices for heritage management often prioritise tangible and singular values of heritage over multiple or interconnected uses and values, and meaningful engagement of the local community in management processes is often limited. At the Sepon Mine caves were predominately managed for geoheritage, biodiversity, and archaeological values, and mitigation efforts were challenged by complex and ineffective land-tenure arrangements. In this paper I examine the application of international heritage management practices as part of mining operations at the Sepon Mine between 2008 and 2015. Focusing on caves as ‘heritage places’ I consider the benefit and challenge to incorporate community needs and values in heritage managing process within mining operations. I conclude by proposing integration of regional heritage charters and protocols within mining and extractive industries in the Lao PDR and Southeast Asia, to encourage amalgamation of local, national, and regional beliefs and practices with international ‘best practice’ in the aim to develop more contextually relevant and sustainable heritage management and conservation practices.

Item ID: 67273
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2586-8721
Keywords: Cave Heritage, Commercial Heritage Management, Lao PDR, Local Community, Sepon Gold & Copper Mine
Copyright Information: © 2020 SEAMEO SPAFA and author. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons 4.0 Attribution Non Commercial-No Derivatives License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits copying, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2021 23:54
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430102 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas @ 25%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440107 Social and cultural anthropology @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 25%
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