Angkor In-situ: Ontological Interpretations of the Relationships between Cultural Heritage and its Surrounding Spaces

Dr Rowena Butland1

1Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia


As the site of UNESCO’s first cultural heritage zoning plan, the Angkor World Heritage Area witnessed a refocusing of heritage management discourse from the protection of heritage monuments, towards a growing desire to conserve vast cultural landscapes. Key to this was the planned management of the adjacent town of Siem Reap, and its relationship with heritage and green spaces. This paper will use a participatory GIS approach to explore the complex relationship between heritage and contemporary spaces. In exploring spatial and aesthetic perceptions of the Angkor landscape, consideration is given to how boundaries are constructed to support particular interpretations of heritage. A comparison of urban and rural land covers reveals the consequences for landscape management arising from ontological differences between stakeholders. Through the inclusion and exclusion of aesthetics, behaviour and people, various control mechanisms have influenced the material qualities of heritage and urban space.


Rowena works within the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at Western Sydney University. She currently specialises in teaching Social Research Methods, whilst continuing to research within cultural and urban geographies.

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