Angkor: Preserving World Heritage and the Role of Interpretation

Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


This paper presents an innovative model for preservation that is changing the way visitors and local communities visit, view, and care for historic and natural sites. This new model, already in practice at sites in Angkor, Cambodia, is based on a comprehensive approach to interpretation as a fundamental component of preservation. Conservation can ensure that the physical memory of a site is preserved; a comprehensive approach to interpretation provides a framework for ensuring that the physical and living heritage is communicated and preserved in a sustainable and meaningful way. Such an approach extends the idea of interpretation beyond signage and exhibits to encompass—indeed to require—multidisciplinary scholarship, understanding tourist needs, and the engagement of stakeholders and target audiences. Incorporating examples from Phnom Bakheng and Preah Khan, the paper explores how an early focus on interpretation during conservation project planning—using this comprehensive approach—can produce sustainable benefits for the whole site, the local communities, and tourists. It further highlights the formation and role of the APSARA Authority’s Interpretation Advisory Committee, an unprecedented mechanism for advancing interpretation in the preservation and management decision-making process within the Archaeological Park of Angkor.


Interpretation Cultural heritage Local community Tourism Angkor 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jane Clark Chermayeff & Associates LLCNew YorkUSA

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