The Tyranny of Materiality: Sacred Landscapes, Tourism and Community Narratives

  • Ashton SinamaiEmail author


Monumentality is the cornerstone of modern tourism. It specifically depends on the physical heritage, but people’s conception of cultural landscapes is usually very abstract and non-physical. These experiences can include narratives of place used to map spaces cosmologically. In Africa, the focus on materiality alienates communities from their heritage and creates conflicts between the heritage managers and stakeholder communities. Using Great Zimbabwe, this chapter shows that monumentality is not the cornerstone of memory, nor is it the only way to understand a cultural landscape. Great Zimbabwe’s designation as a ‘site’ relegates community concerns and promotes political and tourist needs. Focusing on the visual does not assist heritage managers in preserving a landscape that is also sacred. Sacredness is preserved through the respect of the community’s interpretations of the landscape as well as the soundscapes that they associate with the place. Managing such sacred landscapes as ‘archaeological sites’ eliminates the sentient nature of the place.


Monumentality Great Zimbabwe Narratives Archaeological parks Sacred landscapes 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 under REA grant No. 661210 (METAPHOR).


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities, Arts and Social SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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